Afghanistan is where the US military's shiny new counter-insurgency doctrine -- COIN in military-speak -- was supposed to show its stuff. Journalist Nir Rosen brings what he learned in Iraq to bear on that war in Aftermath: Following the Bloodshed of America's Wars in the Muslim World.
Since he really makes an effort to report at least in part from all sides, he did attempt to embed with the Taliban. You can read about Rosen's slightly over the top adventure at the link.
But more important, watching and talking with the US military in Iraq prepared him to observe COIN in action in Afghanistan. He wasn't having any of it.
With the arrival of Obama in the White House and his various strategy reviews, the military seemed to internalize the fallacy that they could have a new start in Afghanistan, a do-over. But that's not how the world works.
Rosen seems to believe that the only way Afghanistan can end for the United States would be to declare victory (regardless of whatever on the ground reality exists) and get out. Petraeus would have to respect to pull that off -- but instead he was in Washington this week talking up a dubious record of "success."
Photo from US Army Flickr feed. Caption: Staff Sgt. Christopher Herndon of 623rd Engineer Company, Task Force Gridley, Nebraska Army National Guard, hands out wooden toys to village children in Paktika Province, Afghanistan on March 9. Photo by Staff Sgt. Anna Rutherford.