February 21, 2009
The Financial Times rightly opined, in a leader today, that the West needs achievable goals in Afghanistan and has to stop scoring own goals. Simply increasing the number of troops is not enough: a new strategy is needed. The trust of the Afghans has to be won, and this is impossible so long as western forces are seen as a threat to Afghan lives and livelihoods (airs strikes killing hundreds of civilians and poppy crop destruction ruining thousands of farmers). The Karzai government is seen as corrupt, dependent on foreign aid, and in hock to warlords and drug barons.
But even given a new, enlightened strategy, this cannot be successful without a workable strategy for Pakistan. And yet, US and NATO strategy and discussion (eg the Financial Times piece) seem to separate the two countries. We need a comprehensive realistic strategy for both Afghanistan and Pakistan, without which both countries are doomed to be dominated by extremists.Author : Stanley Crossick