The idea that al-Qaeda could be prevented from regaining a haven in Afghanistan without having American troops in the country is gaining support as the war drags on, but it's unlikely to work, many counterterrorism experts tell the New York Times. Terrorism can't be destroyed by airstrikes or Special Forces raids alone, experts say, leaving the US with little option but to stay in Afghanistan long-term for the sake of its own security.
Supporters of tackling al-Qaeda from afar point to the success of Predator strikes in attacking al-Qaeda's leadership in Pakistan. But those successes were only possible with the co-operation of Pakistani intelligence forces, experts say. Their help might not be so forthcoming if the US withdraws from Afghanistan, signaling it is not committed to maintaining security in the region. "We tried to contain the terrorism problem in Afghanistan from a distance before 9/11,” said a terrorism expert at Georgetown University. “Look how well that worked.”