Lifting the veil on conflict, culture and politics
from Pakistan: Now or Never?:
In the vast swirl of debate about Afghanistan and Pakistan, it is worth taking the time to read this piece in the Small Wars Journal by Michael Yon about the looming battle for Kandahar and the central importance of the Arghandab River Valley (pdf document).
Just as "a tiger doesn’t need to completely understand the jungle to survive, navigate, and then dominate", Yon argues, you don't have to master the full geographical and historical complexity of the Afghan war to grasp the importance of the Arghandab River Valley in securing Kandahar -- a battle he suggests will be crucial in 2010.
Rather than do this very thoughtful piece the injustice of trying to summarise it, I'd recommend reading it in full.
We have got used to hearing that the United States will find it very difficult to succeed in Afghanistan without help from Pakistan in acting against militants based there -- an argument given another airing in the latest New York Times story about Pakistan resisting U.S. demands to move against the Haqqani network in North Waziristan. What Yon's piece does is to give a different perspective on that argument by suggesting the possibility of U.S. military successes on the ground in Afghanistan -- almost independently of what happens in Pakistan.