No Exit

If Afghanistan Falls, So Will Its Neighbor

As Afghanistan deteriorates and the Pakistani Taliban’s influence spreads in its country, many NATO powers—including the U.S.—are eyeing an early exit strategy. Nothing could be worse for the stability of the region, writes Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid, who says that “a complete American departure would seal the region’s fate.” Although the Afghan war is endlessly discussed in Washington, this fact is troublingly silent: It is the Taliban, not al Qaeda, who could capture Kabul and send the entire region spiraling downward. The past eight years of American occupation of Afghanistan have been “disastrous,” marked by a lack of firm political goals, inter-agency cooperation, and regional diplomatic support, Rashid writes, President Obama must not only make a firm, clear commitment to fix past mistakes in Afghanistan, but also cajole and bribe Pakistan, which is “far less resilient than it was four years ago,” to avoid extremism. “There is still hope,” he says, but it requires “time and patience,” something Obama hasn’t yet been able to prevail upon the American people.