Afghanistan's River Basin
The events in Afghanistan over the past eight years have often defied description. No one theory has been able to capture the process to date, but the river basin theory just might fit as we apply to Afghanistan. A river basin slowly grinds away at the shore that attempts to restrain it, with the banks of that shore slowly changed by the slow but constant force of the water. If a tree or other object falls into the river the water takes the path of lest resistance around it while slowly working on its mass to either move it away or in some fashion cause it to eventually be irrelevant. In Afghanistan, we have believed at first that the sheer weight of NATO forces combined with US power could shape the immediate future of Afghanistan only to discover the complexities of asymmetrical warfare. The lessons of the cold war in the form of the security dilemma were relearned and we decided that a new path was needed. We now have adopted the concepts of counterinsurgency which have been employed since Malaysia, forgotten in Vietnam and rediscovered in Afghanistan. We are still confronted ,however, with the idea of the slow moving but effective ways of a river basin which slowly evolves those obstacles which attempts to restrain or encapsulate it. Our strategy to date as been analogous to that tree falling in the river, and the reaction to it has been the insurgents taking the path of least resistance around it. Having realized that it will take more than firepower to make headway it’s time to restructure our plan for this river called Afghanistan. We in the West cannot do it alone nor can we do it by attempting to reshape their future in the context of our own past.