US lessons from 20 years in Afghanistan (are there any relevant to NI’s situation)?

As we await the return of Northern Irish politics proper, here’s a snippet captured by the excellent John Naughton’s Memex 1.1 Substack blog (subscription, highly recommended) on US lessons from Afghanistan:

  1. Strategy: The U.S. government continuously struggled to develop and implement a coherent strategy for what it hoped to achieve.
  2. Timelines: The U.S. government consistently underestimated the amount of time required to rebuild Afghanistan, and created unrealistic timelines and expectations that prioritized spending quickly. These choices increased corruption and reduced the effectiveness of programs.
  3. Sustainability: Many of the institutions and infrastructure projects the United States built were not sustainable.
  4. Personnel: Counterproductive civilian and military personnel policies and practices thwarted the effort.
  5. Insecurity: Persistent insecurity severely undermined reconstruction efforts.
  6. Context: The U.S. government did not understand the Afghan context and therefore failed to tailor its efforts accordingly.
  7. Monitoring and Evaluation: U.S. government agencies rarely conducted sufficient monitoring and evaluation to understand the impact of their efforts.

Perhaps some of these (more than others) might apply to the UK and Ireland’s custodial role in building (or failing to build on the Northern Ireland peace process…