Obama's Plan B and Pakistan's Window of Hope
By ANATOL LIEVEN and MALEEHA LODHI, New York Times, December 10, 2009
The key question to ask about President Obama’s military surge in Afghanistan is, “Where is Plan B?”
In other words, if the extra troops do not reverse the Taliban momentum and the Afghan governance structure and army cannot take over from the United States in the next few years, what then?
Equally importantly, how does Obama hope to prevent increased U.S. pressure on Pakistan from further destabilizing that country and risking a much greater disaster for the region and the world?
The record of the past suggests that the surge is likely to fail. The additional forces are still not sufficient to win in a country as large as Afghanistan. The Taliban may well be put on the defensive, but given their support in the Pashtun areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan, they are very unlikely to be crippled.
As for the U.S. state-building project, this has failed so comprehensively under President Hamid Karzai in the past eight years that it is difficult to see how it can miraculously reform itself over the next 18 months.
Washington’s aim to build the Afghan National Army to the point where it is able to hold some towns against the Taliban confronts formidable obstacles: illiteracy, lack of professionalism and above all the underrepresentation of Pashtuns, all of which prevents it from becoming a genuinely national force.
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Assessing the Afghan Surge - Council on Foreign Relations
Pakistan’s aid could defeat Haqqani network: McChrystal - Daily Times
VIEW: Pakistan’s window of hope - Syed Talat Hussain, Daily Times
How to Mend Fences With Pakistan - Asif Ali Zardari, New York Times