The American government will send a further 3,000 marines to Afghanistan and is pressing for other NATO member states to provide additional combat-ready troops. Will a military escalation lead to success? The evidence since 2001 is far from encouraging and alternatives to an offensive war now ought to be seriously considered.
The growing protests against the war’s civilian casualties may only be the tip of the iceberg. A report by the US President’s National Security Council in December this year reached a bleak conclusion: the USA and NATO are losing the war.
Given that considerable military escalation has already taken place, and that little or no ground has been won as a result – and in some areas it seems to have been counterproductive – it seems imprudent to simply offer more of the same.
To carry on with an offensive war with additional troops will probably only lead to a further round of escalation by the Taliban. A widening of the war on the Pakistani side of the border will be seriously problematic for the same reason.
In this Comment article Astri Suhrke, Arne Strand and Kristian Berg Harpviken explore what options remain available to the embattled international mission.