How to Fix Afghanistan

Four ways to improve strategy in misdirected war
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Feb 2, 2009 11:44 AM CST
A US serviceman at a US military base in Bagram, north of Kabul, Afghanistan, today.   (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)
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(Newser) – The war in Afghanistan is going poorly, but there’s still time for the US to hone its strategy, Fareed Zakaria writes in Newsweek. We must keep in mind our chief aim, well-put by Defense Secretary Robert Gates: “to prevent Afghanistan from being used as a base for terrorists and extremists.” There are four steps to doing so:

  • “Do counterinsurgency right.” Follow the strategic example set by Gen. David Petraeus in Iraq. We need more troops, but only a few brigades.

  • “Make the Afghan government credible.” Because of ties to the West, its weak leaders have gotten a free ride. Smooth elections and tribal outreach would increase the government’s legitimacy.
  • “Talk to the Taliban.” The only “pressing national security” reason for war against the Taliban is its support for al-Qaeda. Cut that support, and “al-Qaeda would be a much diminished threat.”
  • “Solve Pakistan.” All the 9/11 plots tied to the region lead to Pakistan, not Afghanistan. Pakistan sees militias like the Taliban “as useful weapons in its arsenal.” Push a “strategic rethinking” among Pakistan’s military.