Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 08/2011

Afghanistan: The Impossible Transition

Gilles Dorronsoro

June 2011

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace


A combination of two critical problems threatens to undermine the mission of the United States–led coalition in Afghanistan: the failure of the counterinsurgency strategy and a disconnect between political objectives and military operations. If anything, the current strategy is making a political solution less likely, notably because it is antagonizing Pakistan without containing the rise of the armed opposition. That has put the coalition in a paradoxical situation, in which it is being weakened militarily by a non-negotiated and inevitable withdrawal while at the same time alienating potential negotiating partners.