Guerrilla warfare is not, historically, a nice business. One Guatemalan general once described it as a protection racket, according to Christopher Dickey of Newsweek. You send a clear message: “We can protect you from the guerrillas, but the guerrillas cannot protect you from us—and you’ve got to choose.” But the US is trying to play nice in Afghanistan, and what’s worse, it may be the right move.
Dickey called up renowned Central American ex-guerrilla Joaquin Villalobos, who believes that “Afghanistan is super complicado.” In his day he crushed the enemy by whatever means necessary. But in today’s interconnected world, human rights have become a universal concept. “It’s an operational problem,” he says. “The army of the future needs officers that are sociologists and soldiers that are social workers.” Unfortunately America, after the Abu Ghraib and Bagram abuses, has a problematic record.