When I was in graduate school, I attended a guest lecture* on the the US military’s ‘Human Terrain System’ (HTS) that was being pioneered in Afghanistan from the second half of the 2000s. I found the concept and reality mildly interesting, and I thought it had some potential.
But in light of the US invasion of Iraq, I knew they still had a very long way to go, and I suspected that there were more problems than not. Somehow that feeling proved correct.
This article published by the New York Times last month, ‘The quiet demise of the Army’s plan to understand Afghanistan and Iraq‘, is a worth a read.
The author has written a book about it, titled The Tender Soldier.
The trope about Afghanistan being the “graveyard of empires” seems to hold true of ideas as well, including well-intentioned but ill-conceived ones.
*guest lecture: in my grad school, translated as “a talk within a compulsory conference that we had to attend in order to fulfil credits so that we could actually graduate.”