If the Afghan government were fully legitimate, there would be no insurgency. ... [We] must persuade and even compel Afghan leaders to stop activities that alienate the people and create fertile ground for insurgents.
Wow. I'm torn between thinking that that paragraph is either the most patronizing or the most idiotically simple statement ever made. Do the Kagans really believe that if the Karzai government were less corrupt, that the Taliban would all say, "oh, obviously we can deal with this man, let's all give up our arms and drug money and participate in a democratic government." The Taliban are inherently opposed to a democratic-type government, they want to be in charge.
American military forces can also help restrain politicians' abuses of power. U.S. forces can develop a picture of local power structures, including those through which Afghan officials abuse their power and exacerbate the insurgency. American commanders can collect evidence on individual offenders that a reformed Afghan judicial system would one day be able to use.
That's a great idea, if Karzai doesn't go legit, we'll make him - by embarrassing him, because the blatant evidence of corruption in Kabul hasn't really done it enough. As for the Afghan judicial system, does "decades from now" count as "one day"? This is not a culture that will adopt Western values, but again, somehow the Kagans think that we can impose it on them. The Kagans' argument - that we need to force the Afghan government to behave so that our "security concerns" are met via the McChrystal options - is illegitimate and boastful. It could only appear on the Wall St Journal or - embarrassingly for the alleged liberal MSM - in the Washington Post op eds.