The great Afghan spaghetti monster
For a good example of how difficult it will be for the US military to regain the momentum in Afghanistan, check out this graphic on the military counterinsurgency (aka COIN) strategy.
The graphic from the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff looks like a tangled ball of multicolored yarn, or perhaps it is the military's depiction of the all-powerful, all-knowing Flying Spaghetti Monster...
Whatever the case, it documents the complex relationships between Tribal leaders, soldiers, aid workers, drug dealers, militants, ethnic groups, government leaders, etc.
"For some military commanders, the slide is genius," wrote NBC's Richard Engel, "an attempt to show how all things in war – from media bias to ethnic/tribal rivalries – are interconnected and must be taken into consideration. It represents a new approach to war fighting, looking beyond simply killing enemy fighters. It underscores what those fighting wars have long known, that everything matters."
"But for others," Engel writes, "the diagram represents a fool’s errand that the United States has taken on in the name of national security. Detractors say the slide represents an assault on logic, an attempt to jam a square peg into a round hole. They say the concept of occupying a foreign nation to protect security at home is expensive, time consuming, ineffective and ultimately leads to the 'spaghetti logic' of the slide. They say this slide is what happens when smart people are asked to come up with a solution to the wrong question."
Gen. Stanley McChrystal has about 18 months to show that the graphic is genius and not a fool's errand...