The administration’s plan to send 4,000 additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan is a step in the right direction. The fight against the jihadi war machine in that region must meet the strategic threat posed by the Taliban network and the Al Qaeda organization. They threaten not only NATO troops and the government in Kabul, but also Afghan civilians and, just as importantly, the democratically elected government in Pakistan.
These Army trainers, along with the 17,000 Marines and Army personnel the president wants to deploy into combat operations in Afghanistan, should be part of a global campaign to defeat the terror forces strategically. In that sense, I support the decision.
But the administration must not fall into the trap of striking militarily and failing politically. President Obama must understand that he needs to defeat the Taliban on the ground to be able to engage with the country’s civil society. I am afraid some adviser will convince him to just do the opposite: that is, to believe that he can strike a deal with “moderate Taliban” while he is pushing back against the “bad Taliban.” That would be a disaster. The president must remained focused on winning the war against the jihadist hydra while engaging the forces of civil society.
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