A Tough Question

For US policymakers, the War in Afghanistan is largely a function of two patently flawed options.  On the one hand, significant reductions in American military presence would leave the Afghan state to fend for itself, a task that the government has proved unmotivated in and incapable of performing.  Many members of Karzai’s government have intimate ties to the Taliban, and Afghan security forces will almost certainly fail to defend the state, much less prevent the mushrooming of militant factions that U.S. forces have been working for a decade to suppress.  On the other hand, continued military presence has no logical conclusion or attainable goal.  Nation building efforts have been hampered by a government that has done nothing to legitimize itself, and a security situation that has not exhibited any sort of linear path toward tranquility.  Under the current path, lives will continue to be lost and money spent as Islamist militant organizations endlessly cultivate violence with no motivation or reason to moderate their efforts.  Thus, while surgical attacks on key anti-American organizations may be worth the costs from a security standpoint, the Afghan experiment has shown that U.S. attempts to artificially implement anti-extremist civil societies is an exercise in over ambition.

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