Surge Worked in Iraq, But Beware Afghanistan

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted May 12, 2009 5:52 PM CDT
An Apache helicopter fires a missile at a suspected Taliban position as a soldier mans a machine gun in Afghanistan.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – A new book on the surge in Iraq could offer lessons to the Obama administration about Afghanistan, Dexter Filkins writes in the New Republic. Thomas E. Ricks’ The Gamble details the success of a small band of contrarian US generals, led by David Petraeus, in turning around the war. But “what Petraeus and the other generals have ensured, by staving off defeat, is a longer war,” Filkins writes. Could that be the fate of Afghanistan?

The surge worked because of a combination of luck, a risky strategy to deploy soldiers in neighborhoods, and the so-called Awakening, in which Sunni sheiks squeezed by al-Qaeda and Shiites joined the Americans. The stars may not align in quite the same way in Afghanistan, so beware "facile analogies," Filkins writes. "It is a different world in South Asia. The war in Afghanistan is in its eighth year. Every day Pakistan lurches closer to collapse. Obama's proposals may be too late. Failure is always an option."