(Defense One Today) The United States’ efforts to “win hearts and minds” as it fought the Taliban in Afghanistan seem to have created a cruel and fatal paradox.
When political scientist Jason Lyall of Yale University in the United States surveyed the mood of villages strewn across the country’s southern provinces he found that those with the most pro-US feeling were the most likely to draw punishment attacks from the Taliban. Worse, the US was no more likely to find improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in those supportive villages.
The dynamics behind this are not totally clear. But the implication is that US efforts to win villagers’ hearts and minds were successful enough to render their villages Taliban targets, but not enough to convince them to provide useful intelligence about IEDs. If true, the military is thwarting its own aim, stated in the US Army Field Manual, of “creating safe spaces for the population by reducing insurgent attacks.” […]
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