The Afghan Conundrum

President-elect Barack Obama’s Nov. 16 statement that "we’ve got to shore up (our) efforts" in Afghanistan should be a finalist for understatement of the month. According to news reports, attacks against coalition forces along Afghanistan’s northeast border with Pakistan have surged in recent months despite an increase in U.S. military strikes in the region. One of the area’s deadliest attacks occurred on Nov. 13 when a suicide car bomber struck a U.S. military convoy in a village on the outskirts of Jalalabad. The spike in violence has been accompanied by severe poverty, persistent unemployment, food shortages and drought, none of which have been seriously alleviated by the U.S.-led reconstruction effort. 

Experts agree that what is required above all to reverse Afghanistan’s alarming trajectory is a political solution among the warring sides that will provide the security and stability needed for successful reconstruction. In addition to strengthening the U.S. troop presence in order to confront the challenge, Mr. Obama has hinted that he will pursue a regionally-based political strategy, including direct engagement with Iran, which has been accused of sponsoring proxy attacks on coalition forces in the region, as well as possible negotiations with elements of the Taliban, which continues to have a stranglehold on much of the countryside. This strategy would be a welcome departure from the Bush administration’s over reliance on U.S. military might.

The new administration has no time to lose. C.I.A. Director Michael Hayden said on November 13 that Taliban and al-Qaeda forces are  gaining strength in anticipation of a new offensive. Mr. Obama rightly views Afghanistan as the central front in the so-called war against terror. It appears that America’s enemies in the region would agree. 
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9 years 11 months ago
Fr. Malone says that, Obama rightly views Afghanistan as the central front in the so-called war against terror. Wrong. Why would a country of mud huts and no utilities and people who could not point out where the US or Europe is on a globe be a center of anything? The terrorism in Afghanastan is our terrorizing the people by dropping bombs on villages and wedding parties.

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