Finally, about CNAS. I know it has no “institutional positions” and hence no obligation to explain shifts in analysis. But that is wildly disengenuous [sic]. We are seeing a major reversal in CNAS’s position on COIN issues — which are their signature area of research and influence – and refusing to acknowledge past mistakes or address new assessments is, well, creepy. It is vaguely Stalinist — you know, we’ll just rewrite history and pretend nothing happened. I am pretty sure that if Heritage new year started promoting higher taxes they would feel obliged to explain why their views had changed. The “no institutional positions” line from CNAS leaders is just a cop out. Own your past mistakes. Acknowledge them and learn from them.
So I guess in conclusion, I like what you're trying to do here, and I very much like the acknowledgement that the current strategy doesn't have a real, concrete end point. But I have some major concerns about a) your justification for continued involvement (i.e. WHY winning is important); b) your explanation for how this approach actually works better to achieve our goals in Afghanistan (i.e. HOW we win this way); c) your apparent willingness to sacrifice on the big picture (not getting Americans blown up by al-Qaeda) in order to meet with some limited success in the small picture (keeping Afghanistan from collapse to the Taliban) (i.e. WHAT the point of what we're doing here is).I objected to the bits about increased leverage on the Pakistanis, both because I think we're already trying pretty hard on that one and because there's no concrete elaboration of exactly how to do it. I'm a bit uncomfortable with the sizing of the "residual force" for the same reasons: it's not that 30K is necessarily the wrong number, but I'd like to see them show their work. Why 30,000 and not 25,000? Or 15,000? Or 40,000? And then there's the bit about shifting investment away from the central government in
Other criticisms of "Responsible Transition":