No More Troops

Aiming for Afghan Middle Ground

The American mission in Afghanistan should be made narrower, and more modest, so the U.S. can focus more resources on strengthening Pakistan, argues Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations. The Afghan war is a war of choice, Haass writes in The Washington Post, and several key assumptions about it are wrong. Contrary to conventional wisdom, al Qaeda can re-form anywhere, not just in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. Instead of sending in more troops, the military should refocus on training the Afghan army and police, reflecting “the Afghan reality of a weak center coexisting with strong warlords.” The goal should be a government than can limit the presence of terrorists. On the other hand, aid to Pakistan should rise dramatically, to help the country remain intact with tight control over both its nuclear weapons and the terrorists within its borders. “Anyone who thinks this is not bold enough should keep in mind that even modest objectives tend to be ambitious in this part of the world,” Haass warns.