Ahmed Rashid: The Pentagon Echoes with the Hubris of Vietnam

Roundup: Media's Take

The writer’s latest book is Pakistan on the Brink: The Future of America, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The difference one year makes. A year ago America was celebrating the death of Osama bin Laden and Barack Obama had earned his spurs as a martial president. Now, as the endgame approaches and the US and Nato prepare to withdraw from Afghanistan in 2014, the situation there has deteriorated rapidly.
What is clear is that the US needs to devote all its resources and strategic will to ending the war through the year-long talks with the Taliban, before US forces withdraw in 2014. And yet, increasingly, feuding in the Obama administration has become the main obstacle to progress in such negotiations.
The Pentagon’s insistence on fighting robustly even as the endgame unfolds precludes what Mr Obama himself has called for – the talks. Much of this should be put down to the hubris of the US military, which at the back of its mind still believes there are battles, if not a war, to be won; Taliban to be killed; and at least some success to be gained. They are wrong...

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