Fareed Zakaria at PostGlobal

Fareed Zakaria

Editor of Newsweek International, columnist

PostGlobal co-moderator Fareed Zakaria is editor of Newsweek International, overseeing all Newsweek's editions abroad. He writes a regular column for Newsweek, which also appears in Newsweek International and often The Washington Post. He is a member of the roundtable of ABC News' "This Week with George Stephanapoulos" as well as an analyst for ABC News. And he is the host of a new weekly PBS show, "Foreign Exchange" which focuses on international affairs. His most recent book, "The Future of Freedom," was published in the spring of 2003 and was a New York Times bestseller and is being translated into eighteen languages. He is also the author of "From Wealth to Power: The Unusual Origins of America's World Role" (Princeton University Press), and co-editor of "The American Encounter: The United States and the Making of the Modern World" (Basic Books). Close.

Fareed Zakaria

Editor of Newsweek International, columnist

PostGlobal co-moderator Fareed Zakaria is editor of Newsweek International, overseeing all Newsweek's editions abroad. He writes a regular column for Newsweek, which also appears in Newsweek International and often The Washington Post. more »

Main Page | Fareed Zakaria Archives | PostGlobal Archives


Four Keys to Success in Afghanistan

The war in Afghanistan is not going well; almost all trends are
moving in the wrong direction. But we still have time to focus, improve our
strategy, calibrate our means. It will help immeasurably if we keep in mind
the basic objective of U.S. policy: "Our primary goal is to prevent
Afghanistan from being used as a base for terrorists and extremists to
attack the United States and its allies," Defense Secretary Robert Gates
said last week. That is an admirably clear statement.

It is not that we don't have other goals -- education, female literacy,
centralized control of government services, drug eradication, liberal
democracy. But Afghanistan is one of the world's poorest and most war-torn
countries. At best, many of these objectives will be realized partially,
over very long periods, and they should not be measured as part of military
campaigns or political cycles. They are also goals not best achieved by
military force. The U.S. Army is being asked to do enough in Afghanistan.
Helping it to stay focused on a core mission is neither cramped nor
defeatist but realistic. Such a plan for success would have four steps,
each more complicated than the last.

Do counterinsurgency right. Despite David Petraeus's demonstrable
success in Iraq, U.S. forces in Afghanistan have, to this point, largely
relied on more old-fashioned tactics -- raids, search-and-destroy missions,
air attacks. The needed number of additional U.S. troops is not large.
Afghanistan is predominantly rural, with a limited number of large
population centers and roads requiring protection. And Gen. David
McKiernan, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, has already begun to focus on
this approach. Between the addition of two to four U.S. brigades and a
ramp-up of the Afghan army, there should be enough troops to execute a
modified version of the new counterinsurgency strategy.

Make the Afghan government credible. The central government is widely
seen as weak, dysfunctional and utterly corrupt. Unfortunately, many of its
most corrupt elements are allies of the West and have thus gained a kind of
immunity.

The most immediate way to enhance the legitimacy of the Afghan
government would be to ensure that presidential and local elections take
place this year without disruption and that viable alternative candidates
are free to campaign. But elections are only one form of political
legitimacy. There should be a much broader effort to reach out to tribal
leaders, hold local councils and build a more diverse base of support. The
goal should not be a strong central government -- Afghanistan is by nature
decentralized -- but a legitimate government with credibility and allies
throughout the country.

Talk to the Taliban. The United States is properly and unalterably
opposed to al-Qaeda. We have significant differences with the Taliban on
many issues -- democracy and the treatment of women being the most serious.
But we do not wage war on other Islamist groups with which we similarly
disagree (the Saudi monarchy, for example). Were elements of the Taliban to
abandon al-Qaeda, we would not have a pressing national security interest
in waging war against them.

In fact, there is a powerful military advantage to moving in this
direction. Al-Qaeda is a stateless organization that controls no territory
of its own; it can survive and thrive only with a host community. Our
objective should be to cut off al-Qaeda from its allies in Afghanistan and
Pakistan. Deprived of local support, al-Qaeda would be a much diminished
threat. It is true, of course, that some elements of the Taliban might be
closely wedded to al-Qaeda. But others are not.

Although the United States is in its seventh year of war in
Afghanistan, not one Afghan was involved at any significant level in the
Sept.11 attacks. All the plots that have been traced back to the region
lead not to Afghanistan but Pakistan.

Solve Pakistan. When the United States invaded Afghanistan, it did not
defeat al-Qaeda and its supporters among the Taliban. They simply fled to
Pakistan, their original home. Pakistan has long viewed the various Islamic
militias it created and helped fund -- including the Taliban -- as useful
weapons in its arsenal, low-cost ways to keep its historic foes, India and
Afghanistan, off balance. For Islamabad to genuinely renounce these groups
would require a fundamental strategic rethinking within the Pakistani
military.

The civilian government in Pakistan, although weak and ineffective, is
allied with the international community on these issues. It, too, wants a
Pakistani military that knows its boundaries, does not run militant groups
and conceives of the country's national interests in less-confrontational
terms. I don't want to make this sound easy. It won't be. Of all the tasks
facing Petraeus, as head of U.S. Central Command, and newly appointed U.S.
special envoy Richard Holbrooke, this is the hardest. Yet if the problem
with Pakistan cannot be solved, the war in Afghanistan cannot be won.

The writer is editor of Newsweek International and co-host of PostGlobal,
an online discussion of international issues. His e-mail address is
comments@fareedzakaria.com.

Comments (86)

DebChatterjee Author Profile Page:

Basically Pakistan needs to be recolonized and brought under the UN sanctions.

Pakistan supported/recognized Taliban. The other country was Saudi Arabia. Saudi minus oil is a failed state. 15 of the 19 9/11 Muslim terrorists were Saudis, and had funneled money thru' Pakistan.

Pakistan is spreading its version of radical Islam all over South Asis, and the recent 11/26 Mumbai carnage are testimony to this fact.

The ideology of radical Islam, which is embraced by Taliban and Al-Qaeda are issues that need to be challenged and shall require sustained long term involvement. The process is very murky because at a fundamental level who is to say that Osama's interpretation of Islam is wrong, and, that of some "westernized" Muslim (like Fareed Zakaria) is correct ? The USA has no moral obligation from preventing Muslims interpreting Islam in a very radical way, but USA does have an obligation to prevent these radicalized Muslims from causing violent harm to other (non-Muslims and moderate Muslims) inspired by such hateful and intolerant interpretations. Winning the hearts and minds of the Muslim world is not an obligation for USA. But preventing another 9/11 from happening is an obligation that falls now with President Barak Obama. (Let's see what he does.)

Pakistan can play its part by cracking down on these radical madrassas that reach pure hate, but Pakistan won't do so for purely political and opportunistic reasons. However that should never deter the remainder of non-Muslim planet to stand up against Pakistan. The genie is out of the bottle and is now getting even with Pakistan. The red mosque (Lal Masjid) incident in Islamabad is a grim reminder to these bosses in Pakistan that the situation is really bad now. Instead Pakistan trains LeT and JeM killers, and, when confronted brings up Kashmir and Palestine. That means whereever Muslims are in trouble for right or wrong reasons, Pakistan apparently has formulated a strategy to use that to gain brownie points. That's what Asif Ali Zardari is doing now, to get mileage of the Mumbai attacks orchestrated by his ISI sleuths. (Hamid Gul has apparently confirmed that ISI agenda is to foment unrest and bloodbath in India - which is a land of 'kafirs' - Hindus.) How can this be tolerated for perpetuity ?

Thus, an all out war (including nukes) is the best solution. Pakistan should be turned into a nuclear wasteland.

clearthinking1 Author Profile Page:

To msiddiqui,

How about some facts and data. How exactly are Afghani's under the influence of India causing problems in Pakistan?

You seem to be projecting onto India the behavior of Pakistan in supporting terrorism as state policy. Did some Afghani's with help from RAW kill hundreds of innocents in hotels in Karachi recently? Oh wait! That was the usual angry, hate-filled, Pakistani, ISI-supported, Punjabi, Islamic terrorists.

The ideology of hate that defines the Islamic Emirate of Pakistan is self-destructive. It is not America's, Britain's, India's, or Russia's fault that Pakistan is a failed state.

msiddiqu Author Profile Page:

Zakaria,
Sort of good write up. But this forum has become an anti-Pakistan Indian chatterbox. Taliban and Al-Qaeda have become secondary in this war. It has become fashionable to implicate ISI and/or Pakistani army in the this game.

As long as India tries to gain a foothold in Afghanistan, no one can convince Pakistan that it is in their interest to curb Taliban. Indian intelligence RAW is very active in Afghanistan thru its several consulates to de-stablize Pakistan. Ironically the RAW supplied arms get into Taliban's hands as well.

Zakaria missed an important point that Taliban, Al-Qaeda and other jihadi organizations were splinters of the MUJAHIDEEN who were armed and support by US to defeat Soviets. That is when for the first time Pak army/ISI were ever involved with Jihadis. Those were abandoned by the US when Soviets withdrew and were thrown in Pakistani lap. The outcome was obvious.

Of course Pakistan helped Taliban with tacit US approval to take over Afghanistan diminishing Indian influence there.

The bottom line is, that Indian influence in Afghanistan must end NOW or Indian armed Afghans (including Taliban) will be a problem. As long as India thru RAW intelligence agency plays its dirty game from Aghanistan to cause problems in Pakistan, no one will be able to stabilize Afghanistan. One of the Indian Parliamentarian said in Parliment, We should re-invigorate our efforts to de-stabilize Pakistan from Afghanistan". RAW agents will be targeted in Afghanistan for all to see.

The venom Indians are spewing in this forum is a testimony to the anti-Pakistan sentiments.

Or the US should seal the border with Pakistan and stop the cross border movement to and from Afghanistan. If US cannot do that then do not expect Pakistan to do it.

India is turning Afghanistan into a battleground for influence against Pakistan and cannot win. Ask the Soviets. International community cannot fight in isolation but to pay attention to that fact.

scepticus1 Author Profile Page:

All these war must be con business. The Iraq war was to get the western oil ginats to get a footing there which Saddam Hussein has removed. The war in Afghanistan must be for the benifit of armaments makers. It is the common taxpayers money is being spent which eventually reaches the shareholders of those companies. If there is no war what those factories do? They will have to close down. So for their benifits and that of many other industries war is a must.

clearthinking1 Author Profile Page:

Fareed,

Why are posts being held? What happened to freedom of speech in America? Shouldn't all posts be available?

mansour112 Author Profile Page:

What does it mean war going well? more people killed or killing the members of the resistance so that there is no more resistance?The Mafia says their war is going well if they kill more of the opposite side.
War is the ultimate terror. Please stop this inhumanity

lmno250 Author Profile Page:

Obama and Biden going to Suicide mission to pursue a failed policy of mr BUSH.can MR Fareed explain to me This $864 billion total covers all war-related appropriations from FY2001 through part of FY2009 is due to pakistan any person involved in 9/11 is from pakistan orgin,why USA not attack to KSA Egypt and Yemen where
Bin LADEN,AL zuhwari,and other terrorist was involved,2nd most important who will be next enemy of USA after winning to talbin and al-qaeda,stop helping Iran and India to destablizing Pakistan integrity through Sunni shia conflict,there are 16 afghan consulate just explain me why they are ,you cant help us so we cant help you ,USA CAUSE MORE HARM THAN GOOD TO PAKISTAN ,sending troop and drone attack mean destablizing nuclear weapon country and helping the radical movement in pakistan stop harbouing anti pakistan elements in kabul ,other wise balgrham and kandar air base is not far from pakistan ,hot prusit by pakistan is not a big question .mr freed we warn USA again and agin help us not creat problem for us through drugs and sectarian volienc in pakistan.

clearthinking1 Author Profile Page:

Fareed

DebChatterjee Author Profile Page:

Fareed,

Pakistan, which recognized Taliban in Afghanistan, now is playing the spoiler game. It says that for fighting Al-Qaeda, it needs Kashmir problem with India resolved. That means Pakistan is using the Kashmir imbroglio for it to be motivated to cooperate with USA to root out Taliban and Al-Qaeda. The situation is that an employee storms the office of the company's CEO and demands that s/he won't work unless the CEO phones up the landlord to turn on the gas ! Well, the situation is comparable. Unless USA extricates the two, the result would be a mess. In making such absurd and childish demands, Pakistan also is trying to hide its complicity in the recent Mumbai attacks.

Now Pakistan cannot control its SWAT valley, once dubbed as "Pakistan's Switzerland". The following CNN news is noteworthy:

http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/02/03/pakistan.girls.school/index.html

So, Asif Zardari, who is rumored to have planned his wife, Benazir Bhutto's murder - so that he could ascend to the throne under sympathy votes, now makes asinine excuses for Pakistan's situation while acknowledging that indeed militants and radical Islamic ideology is flourishing well in Islamabad. So, what does India (which had the Mumbai attacks of 11/26) do ? Just start another "peace express" before another cataclysmic terrorist attack happens ? USA it seems is selfishly pursuing its own objectives. Richard Holbroke is bent on solving the US's war with Al-Qaeda on India's back. I hope that India does not cave in. (But, I am not so sure.) As long as this cat and mouse game is played by Pakistan to buy time, there is danger.

I predict that there will be a nuclear war with India in the next 5 years. Pakistan will be turned into a nuclear wasteland, because Pakistan shall drop the nuke first and India, I hope, shall retaliate to wipe Pakistan off the map.

artistkvip1 Author Profile Page:

i enjoyed reading your words they were well thought out and seem to eloquently explain the situation as i understand it from reading articles.... i wonder what the people of afganistan think... what is it they themselves see as the things they actually need, what is the order they themselves think they need them in .. and just where is it they as a nation want to go.... in my experience people do not throw away things they actually want and need,... maybe the best results would be to let them do thier things thier way what ever that is if it is non violent ...i seems pretty clear all the fancy eyes in the skys and boots on the ground made no attempt to stop the poppys from being grown. in fact the heroin production increased which if i understand what the talibans main function is to curtail production as well as social freedoms, here maybe is the real answer and the real problem when human beings try to tell adult human beings what they can and cannot do then it makes all these unwanted consequenques arrive. maybe the answer in life is to either destroy all the poppys 9 which we could use as a metaphour for personal freedoms in society just as easily) i don't think you could desroy all pppys or freedoms if you wanted to or do you let humans harm them selves if they wish but at a cheaper price so all the violence would go away. its not like there would be a change in the actual number of people who decided they benifitted from the whatever or even those who used it to escape if you cannot fix the underlying flaw in humanity how can you think you can moralize an action which in effect tells another they are not capeable of making thier own dessisions.. of coarse i have made my example so extreme they could most likely never be inacted but i think to disregaurd the underlying truth of any situation and pretend it doesn't exist is how russia and now ourselves get in such messes not to mention the afganistan people who are treated like the village idiots... i suspect they may indeed know what they want and be far brighter than some others .

DebChatterjee Author Profile Page:

Fareed,

Right-hearted solutions are not necessarily right-headed.

This babble about "reaching out to the Muslim world" is a half-baked answer. Yes, USA must reach out to the Muslim world. But look around man: Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia are just examples of the spread of the fundamentalist Islamic ideology: Wahabism. This is to be combated and make no mistake, USA cannot formulate a counter-Wahabi doctrine and put it around the necks of the Muslims. It is the job of the moderate Muslims (like you) to get that done. You folks have to clean your own Qom/mazhab. I, as a kafir, will not do that for you.

The USA would do well to extricate the Kashmir issue from its War on Terrorism on the Afghan-Pakistan theater. This is a particularly new coincern: while President Obama is probably more aware of the scenario, I am suspicious that his most leftist colleagues like Nancy Pelosi, Barney Frank et. al. in the end would force India to compromise on the Kashmir issue unjustly so that Pakistan can have a more comfortable situation in complying with Uncle Sam's demands.

Uncle Sam has been particularly fudgy with Pakistan. One really does not know why USA supports Pakistan. In fact USA has materially contributed to the Islamic militancy in Kashmir and maybe indirectly held responsible. During the Reagan era, for the sake of "National Interests", USA pumped in a lot of money and arms into Pakistan so that Soviet Union could be fought back and they were hastened into a retreat. While Comunism went backfoot it gave the birth to Taliban and Al-Qaeda.

Hamid Gul, the former ISI supremo and a true-blooded anti-Hindu/anti-Jew/anti-USA fanatic, has given intereviews aired on the History channel. It has been reported that it was Hamid Gul who introduced Osama bin Laden to Mullah Omar (taliban) when Osama bin laden was fleeing Sudan. Hamid Gul has stated that during Zia-ul-Haq's times a sum of the US assistance was regularly siphoned off to organize militancy in Kashmir to wrest it from India.

So, given this scenario I agree that Pakistan problem needs to solved: but the trajectory of that solution is equally important. For one of the solution paths could lead to a nuclear Armageddon in South Asia. This would be linking Kashmir and "War on Terror" as a political doctrine for the Obama administration. Richard Holbroke is quite adept at formulating such solutions which results in nothing.

KraftPaper Author Profile Page:

I don't believe Afghanastan has a chance to turn around until we delegitimize opium production.

How is it when Hamas rockets land in Israel it is not on the front page? But when Israel retaliates every pro Arab antiSemite lights a fire under the editor's desk?

ibrahim555tafakkur Author Profile Page:

Arm-chair strategy and drawing room solutions cannot solve problems in Afghanistan where once the same people were living peaceful and honourable life only a few decades back, are now blamed for all the evils that are happening in the West. Afghanistan was supposed to be a moderate and progressive nation under the monarchy. Now with the advent of democracy every thing has gone topsy- turvy. The best solution would be the restoration of monarchy and the total evacuation of all outside elements that could enable the afghans to solve their own problems without outside interference. If the afghans want the taliban to rule them let it be so but then the taliban have no business to interfere in other countries.

AnjuChandel Author Profile Page:

Afghanistan is an incredibly complex situation of which the US, Russia and Pakistan are the main architects.

The four keys to success in Afghanistan could be:

1. Increase military presence adequately; also include the Afghani locals in the "fight against terror".

2. Reign in Pakistan with tough economic sanctions and military responses -- erode the local base and support.

3. Engage Arab-Muslim world especially Saudi Arabia and stop them from further funding the terror outfits.

4. Involve China and India too in finding a sustainable peaceful solution.

But the most important thing is a sincere political WILL: to finish the Afghanistan problem and never-ending miseries of Afghanis without "playing politics" in this region any further. Beacuse, what you sow, so shall you reap. Here, however, the unfortunate Afghanis have got trapped in the crossfire.

America should show "genuine" leadership qualities by "reaching out" and "engaging" all - in finding a permanent solution to the seemingly never-ending conflict.

Easy to say but difficult to execute. But then there is no other wayout of the quagmire that the US finds itself in. ... Best of Luck, Mr. President Barack Obama!

MPatalinjug Author Profile Page:

Yonkers, New York
03 January 2009

In this essay of his, Fareed Zakaria misses one critical point.

The military solution, alone, will not do the job of turning Afghanistan around. As that last NIE estimate clearly concludes, Afghanistan is "in a downward spiral"--a downward spiral into anarchy and chaos.

It was Secretary of Defense Robert Gates himself who postulated that the military solution, coupled with reconstruction and economic development, might do the job.

But given the fact that reconstruction and economic development for Afghanistan will easily require a yearly outlay of several billion dollars over at least a generation, and the other fact that the United States is now in a financial bind, such an effort now appears to be unrealistic.

And so, the only option open is to go on with the miltiary option indefinitely--but not to expect Afghanistan to be turned around anytime soon.

Mariano Patalinjug
MarPatalinjug@aol.com

dmblum Author Profile Page:

Declare victory and go home.

clearthinking1 Author Profile Page:

Pakistan as a nation is failing miserably, and it is a failed society based only on hatred. They have taken US aid while supporting the Taliban's killing of US soldiers.

ECONOMIC FAILURE: Pakistan is bankrupt. Even all the loans from IMF, World Bank, Paris Club, London Club, overt and covert aid from US, and repeated refinancing of the debt have not worked.

MILITARY FAILURE: 4 wars have been lost by Pakistan. Bangladesh was freed in 4 days. The military is demoralized and cannot even control its own territory.

SOCIAL FAILURE: the miserable poverty and exploitation within Pakistan is shocking. The Honor killings and treatment of women is unacceptable.

POLITICAL FAILURE: The military coups, suspension of constitutional law, murders of Bhuttos (father and daughter) reveal no evidence of a modern political culture or democracy.

EDUCATIONAL FAILURE: The lack of modern schools and scientific education shows no potential for Pakistan to develop economically or politically in the future. The madrassas are where terrorists are openly bred.

CULTURAL FAILURE: A nation that looks the other way as terrorists and murders are being trained openly is morally bankrupt. Every Pakistani knows whats been going on in their country, and one must assume they approve of the violence in their heart.

For Pakistan, the phrase "failed state" should be replaced by the phrase "evil state". No more US taxpayers' money for Pakistan until there is a fundamental strategic rethink inside the Paki army.

vmoore55 Author Profile Page:

Remember how the USSR went down in this hell hole

vmoore55 Author Profile Page:

Remember how the USSR when down in this hell hole.

danieleteodoru Author Profile Page:

Zakaria is a most Westernized South Asian and may have forgotten what one Afghan mountain man can do with a gun. Our only hope is that Afghans let us leave without giving us the black eye that the Sino-Russian Shangahai Accord may wish to give us-- wedging between us and our NATO partners who are as mad at our hubris as the Taliban. Further still, Afghanistan has evolved into the main battle line, more than Kashmir, between Pakistan (whose ISI intel services wanted it for depth) and India (that sought to use it to surround Pakistan, having poured $millions into it). Sooooo, it seems absurd for us to make political process demands on a non-nation of tribes and feifs that only knew national order under the Taliban. We are a depleted military failure in Afghanistan thanks to GW Bush & crew, who gave up the chase for binLaden to rape Iraq's oil. Lastly, knowing we can't afford our past lavish dollars support and are shifting our focus from the Mideast to South Asia, Israel is trying to blackmail us as if to say: if you don't support us we'll make a bloodbath of the Palestinian half of the two-states solution. It is sucidal to do that, but it wouldn't be the first time. What Obama needs to do is set some principles of US policy and stand by them no matter what. These should define the Muslim World as out of our Pentagon gun site, switching to the neocons in the gun site of the Justice Dept. Even if there is no jail time, a bill of particulars will be a sign post separating where Bush left off and Obama began. The resent attempt by Mr. Ignatus to shut up the Turkish Premier at Davos should be a clear sign that the Muslim World will not play ball with us if we keep calling it "Islamofascist" while butchering its innocent civilians from the air in our search for al Qaeda.

donnolo Author Profile Page:

We should bribe the tribal leaders to fight on our side. That was how the so-called surge succeeded in turning around the Sunnis in Iraq. It worked there and it will work in Afghanistan too.

Corruption is not just a crime, it's a diplomatic and military resource.

drompraka Author Profile Page:

Fareed Zakaria fails to point out some ironies.Pakistan wants "strategic depth" with Afghanistan which is a euphemism for "control".India which doesnot even share a border with Afghanistan tries to vie for the same "strategic depth" so Pakistan wont create trouble in Kashmir. Both Pakistan and India have serious law and order situation within their own borders.Large swathes of Indian states are being run by Naxalite anarchists.The state government in Uttar Pradesh is run like a Mafia state which includes murder and extortion by state agencies.Pakistan government writ doesnot run in Swat which is about a hundred miles from Islamabad.Afghanistan's President is more like a Kabul mayor.The situation in all three countries is scary and they all are in huge denial,especially Indians and Pakistanis.

beagun27 Author Profile Page:

The Afghan war was started all wrong. It should have started as a limited police action. But then, the Bushies never did know their history nor learned from it.
As Zakaria pints out the perpetrators of 9/11 were Saudis, and the leadership was sitting on the Afghan Pakistan border, just as they are today.

Afghanistan is a tribalist society with a weak and corrupt central government which has allowed a narco state to emerge again, with the agreement of the Bush administration. Even the Taliban which killed the opium production decided they needed it to finance their resurgent war.

When one wants to learn what small efforts can do, especially if supported by strong police, then read Greg Mortenson's "Three Cups of Tea", about a man who built dozens of schools in Pakistan and even Afghanistan, supported by the local tribes.

But the re-emergence of radical Islam, which has stone age beliefs about rights and justice, has destroyed much of the progress that Mortensen helped make.Destroying schools and limiting education is important to the influence of the Mullahs.

Germany after WW II was run by Army Civil Government experts, and they managed to get the country back on track pretty fast. But then, the western philosophy was resident there, not Islam and Sharia law that treats women as property with no equal rights and kills any opponents.

We cannot cure that tribal set of mind or change it. Western democracy is not suitable for Afghanistan. Perhaps only a benevolent dictatorship will succeed, but that is not in the cards for NATO or the US, who aim for the near impossible and are loosing in the course of that.
Remember the British efforts in the 19-20th century, the Russian one and out mistaken approaches in the 21st. Will we ever learn?

SaminLA Author Profile Page:

Zakaria is a stooge of the West in Indian garb. He toes the Western line so a to keep his job at Newsweek and CNN. He will never talk against India as that is his country. He tries to Directly or indirectly write against Pakistan especially the army as it is music to the Western as well as Indian interests. He normally chooses an interesting topic about which the folks in the West do not know much about.

nassim54 Author Profile Page:


In my humble opinion and from my personal observation, I have come to a firm conclusion that we would be in far better position in
Afghanistan if we dealt with the problem of rampant corruption which is not only limited to the Afghan government and warlords but to the foreign organizations and NGOs as well. Remember that the same warlords were kicked out of Afghanistan with their tails between their legs in few months by a ragtag forces of Taliban in mid-90s. Why? Because the warlords and their cronies were corrupt and the Talibans were not.

2- Build more schools, schools, schools,..., and roads. In the long run, education is the only way to salvage Afghanistan

3- Stop cross border infiltration from Pakistan. It requires the cooperation of credible Pakistani government with genuine support from the military, particularly ISI. This is the toughest nut to crack, because the government is lead by Zardari, the most corrupt and discredited person, and it is a fact that ISI has never stopped its support for Talibans.


4- Devise strategies for encouraging the Afghans to fight their own fanatic elements and deemphasize the military involvement of foreign forces who are blind to the cultural sensitivity of the locals.

4- Engage constructively with Iran which has a tremendous amount of influence in some corners of Afghan societies.

My two cents.

wallbangr Author Profile Page:

Very good point Simplesimon33. However, invading and holding those areas is much easier said than done. But I totally agree that Pak is the problem and that they fundamentally oppose seeing the US succeed in Afghanistan.

dmfarooq Author Profile Page:

Mr Zakaria you have presented a very fair and balanced assessment of the problems U.S. is faced up with in War on terror, in both Afghanistan and Paksitan . Your suggestions on some key policy aspsects in this reagrd needs objective review . I believe Obama Aministration's policy of diplomacy and development , with U.S. Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan should work on a program of New Beginnings on War on Terror in Afghanistan and Pakistan. It is very difficult time for foreign , particularly U.S. personnel to operate in Afghanistan and Pakistan . But now is the time for a new strategy and review of existing security system, to help volunteer and government agencies operating in that region , to have as free access as possible to the people and communities they decide to serve. It is also the time and opportunity for President Obama and new folks at the State Department and U.S. AID to plan to combat deep rooted problems of terrorism in that region. I believe to start with , we have to fight poverty, injustices , lack of economic opportunity and access to basic human needs of education , health etc. in selected areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan's FATA , Swat region . We have to start and then expand resolution of the basic economic development issues at point zero of the War on terrorism. Resolution of poverty and basic human needs will enable more the communities to stand up with the U .S. and against terrorism .

Neerja Author Profile Page:

Thanks Mr.Zakaria for writing a balanced article. He's right, without solving Pakistan's issue we can't resolve Afganistan's issue! The whole world understands this situation now and the world has to act now!

mansour112 Author Profile Page:

Mr. Zakaria
Remember that war is ultimate terror. How many thousands of families have the US army and its allies killed in Afghanistan. Some relatives of these families will seek revenge with no end. The west should bring the government, Taliban and other forces in the country together to agree on elections and then leave the country paying for all the damage and helping education.
The nonsence of bringing democracy, making the women free ..etc using weapons is not only insane but it is a lie. The US needs a culture of achieving its goals by peaceful means and learning to be a real democracy before preaching democracy to other nations. Be human

hindukush Author Profile Page:

Zacharia, mentions, there are Taliban who are with Alqaeda and some are not. Is this 100% true. If they are not with Alqaeda then can they be called Taliban. Taliban & Alqaeda are same.
Taliban consists of Afghans, Alqaeda consists of other Nations. Taliban want destroy Afghanistan, Alqaeda want destroy the World using terror.
Both are puppets of Pakistan Army. And Pakistan Army is in hands of Puppet master China.
I believe China has role in controlling Pakistan terror machine.

AlongTheWatchTowers Author Profile Page:

Bush is out, and Obama and the Democrats are in. Yet people still talk about Bush. Sooner or later, you gotta wake up and take some meds. Obama is talking positively about Iraq and now he's going to war in Afghanistan. I'm sure Democrats will line up to join the Armed Services so that they can do their part for President Obama and America. Democrats are... real patriots. They tell us so.

jujones1 Author Profile Page:

Great article, fine, sensible ideas - but they may be years too late. It is very worrisome to think that President Obama, his team, and subseuqently the rest of us, will become mired in yet another impossible "front" of the war on terror.

gquindoza Author Profile Page:

Doesn't he Zakaria look like the actor William Dafoe?

simplesimon33 Author Profile Page:

Mr. Zakaria preaches US to ‘solve Pakistan’. Pakistani army is not about to rethink its fundamental strategy of using Taliban and Afghanistan to gain strategic depth against India. And ‘weak and ineffective’ Pakistani civilian government can never force Pakistani army to change its strategy because that civilian government agrees with army. No excuses by Pakistani president Zardari in recent Washington Post column like ‘Kashmir’, ‘lack of resources’, ‘water crisis’ or ‘increasing Indian influence in Afghanistan being detrimental to Pakistan’ will change the basic fact that Pakistan has been and will continue to be the ‘terror center’ of the world in spite of all the past, present and future US, Chinese and Saudi Arabian aid. Pakistan can not use ‘poverty’ as an excuse for it becoming a ‘terror center’ any more than India, Rwanda or East Timor can. Unless and until US forces take the bull by the horn and invade and occupy Pakistan’s FATA and Waziristan areas as well as Baloochistan for a sustained period of time, US-led mission in Afghanistan will continue to suffer.

drne Author Profile Page:

The US war on terror hinges on creating simplistic categories in which to lump adversaries and then devise military strategies to defeat these amorphous foes. Over the years the planners have developed a lexicon of terms that are used by the media without question. The opposing camp is all jihadi militants bent upon destruction, inspired by al-Qaeda's nihilism. Stone throwers in the West Bank, policemen or rocket launchers in Gaza, Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, etc. are all inspired by the same logic of religiously inspired hatred. They do not deserve any quarters.
Of course, in this noble version of geo-politics the strategy is equally forgiving of those who we judge as allies. We forgive them all their trespasses. Whether it is Saudi orthodoxy, Egyptian dictatorship, Israeli abuse of Palestinian property and basic rights.
This farcical conundrum reflects the basic US conflict. America has a historical aversion to imperialism while it increasingly exercises it superpower imperatives. It expresses values it cannot adhere to. In the Bush era the pretense of being noble attained an unprecedented level of hypocrisy. The challenge for the Obama administration is to ratchet down the disparities to a more reasonable level. Success will be measured by how well the policy modulates the distinctions between friend and foe, avoid dehumanizing labels and use a standard yardstick. It would help a more effective carrot-and-stick approach whether in Afghanistan, Pakistan or the Mideast. Mr. Obama will indeed work a miracle if he can lead us into the promised land of humane diplomacy.

mewindows Author Profile Page:

President Obama,

DON'T LET AFGHANISTAN BE YOUR I-R-A-Q !!!!!

mewindows Author Profile Page:

Hey Everyone, watch Bill Moyer's show this past friday; it brilliantly analyses this very topic and THE OUTLOOK FOR THE U.S.A IS NOT GOOD, IF OBAMA FALLS INTO THE SAME TRAP, as did the Russians, who by the way had three times the number of troops and a strong Afghan army to back it !!!!!!

GET-THE-HELL-OUT-OF-THERE and let UN or NATO take over !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

wallbangr Author Profile Page:

And what is your brilliant solution Tropicalfolk?

mewindows Author Profile Page:

[AlongTheWatchTowers: For eight years, Democrats sat out the war against Islamic terror. From the tone of many of these postings, Democrats simply don't want to "keep their eye on the ball" - - '']

- - such NeoCon, Right-Wing garbage !!!!!!

Hey Jack-Ass,

Where you been these past eight years ??

''CHIMPY'' HAS ALREADY DONE ALL THAT !!

Oh, I am sorry, I guess you were busy watching Fox News - -

ejmurphy414 Author Profile Page:

Zakaria is, as usual, trenchant and clear. His analysis needs no emendation. But I can't resist adding a point: the Taliban's treatment of women, while not something to be fought by military means, should be a cause we do not forget or abandon! Reports of acid throwing to disfigure young young women's faces make my blood boil. We must never give up the struggle to free women from male tyranny.

tropicalfolk Author Profile Page:

Usually, Mr Zakaria chooses a interesting issue... and writes nonsense about that. This article is no exception.

What is the goal of keeping tens of thousands of US and European troops in Afghanistan? Prevent another 9/11?

Well, then invading a muslim country, killing tens of thousands of its men, women and children, installing a puppet government, and promoting widespread corruption... doesn't sound like the best strategy. It only causes Afghans to fight even harder for their freedom, and to hate Americans more.

You know, if your entire family is killed by a missile that "accidentally" fell on your house during a wedding, you may consider killing those who did that.

More than two centuries ago, some men wrote:

"For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us: For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States: For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world: For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent: For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury: For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences: For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments: For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever..."

Then those men went mobilized their nation and devoted their lives to fight for their freedom: "with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."

Of course, Mr Zakaria doesn't understand a word of it. No wonder he considers Mr Gates' words "admirable".

michaelgriffith Author Profile Page:

Hey! Perez59, you can't read an article because you don't like the picture? grow up and finish high school before you form an opinion you jack ass!

perez59 Author Profile Page:

I can't read anything this essayist has to say. The problem is that I can't get passed his photograph. He looks as if Rigor Mortis has set in. Please rethink this photo.

AlongTheWatchTowers Author Profile Page:

For eight years, Democrats sat out the war against Islamic terror. From the tone of many of these postings, Democrats simply don't want to "keep their eye on the ball" or ".. get Bin Laden.." Instead we have the enduring battle cry of today's Democrat Party: "They who run away live to run another day..."

Sidney3 Author Profile Page:

I do not think America is responsible for the well-being of Afghanis and Pakis. What have they done for us? 9/11?

The basic problem is extreme intolerance (57 exclusive Islamic nations) and violence within the Islamic culture. It is a Muslim problem, that only Muslims can solve.

smokberry2002@yahoo.com Author Profile Page:

Afghanistan is not a country. It is a conglamoration of bandit warlords. If you have ever tried to herd cats you will know what I mean.
Our assistance should be in the form of economic, social, and educational assistance.
We need just enough military to keep the Taliban at bay. Oh and it will take about 30 yearsbefore we succeed.
Military dominations has been tried by the Brits and Russians and they both failed. We will fail too if this is our intent.

dave57 Author Profile Page:

I agree that while our stated goal is to prevent Al Qaeda from having bases in Afghanistan, we could occupy 10 or 20 other nations, with the same mission. We have muddied the waters, looking for democracy and women's rights. We need to leave,"YESTERDAY". Over the years[prior to invasion] Iran, Iraq, Egypt and many Arab nations, softened there treatment of women, and even encouraged careers. It takes years for progress to happen. The new hatred of all that is American, will probably create a backlash. If the point of a gun is the only way to give rights to the women, then it will surely be lost, when no one is looking. I for one do not want to stay there one minute longer and watch.

surfer-joe Author Profile Page:

I am but one of many whom are tired of our government wasting our money and people in Afghanistan. The best that Obama can do is to pull all our people out and quit sending money to a place that is not of any national interest to us. Let the Pakistani's and Indians worry about what happens there and take steps on their own to deal with it. As we move out of any involvement in central Asia, we become less of a target for it's terrorists. One does not, for example, see Muslim terrorists target Iceland or Mexico.

jjcrocket Author Profile Page:

Until the Taliban and al Qaeda can be confronted in Pakistan we will play a game which can't be won in Afghanistan. The Taliban started their movement in Pakistan. Musharraf and Bush kept the lid on the Taliban support, but now that both are gone we see new strength of purpose among the Taliban and al Qaeda! This must be the central focus of the attack!

Somali Author Profile Page:

When someone who calls himself "a journalist" or "columnist", talks about the mass murder and destruction of a poor people who did NOTHING to the west to diserve the war waged on their country, when someone calling themselves "journalist" calls for the CONTINUATIOn of the mass murder of the poor defenseless people of Afghanistan, and NOT ONLy CALLS for the continued mass killing of these people, but also gives ADVISE (calling it "steps) on how to REFINE their killing machine to the murderous american military that continues to rampage and kill INNOCENT women and their children in COLD BLOOD and then, indecently, even REFUSE TO APPOLIGISE, when these sorts of people peddle their hedious theories about how to kill a poor people EFFICIENTLY, how do you respect them, their opinions, ideas and the medeum that propagets their murderous fantasies??????

Washington poast, you continue to slide and sink into newer and newer lows every day that passes. Your Mr Zakaria may sound reasonables to YOU, the armchair Torturers, terrorists, child and women killers and murderous criminals who call themselves "editors" who run this website and its affiliated propaganda fronts, Zakaria may sound "reasonable" to these stinkers because most of the time they are REALLY, REALLY DETACHED from TRUTH and REALITY in this world, but he comes accross as a hedious monster to me who checks out his VOMIT here to see for myself the depth to which what used to be called "journalism" in the west continues to sunk into!!!!!

What have Afghanis DONE to America to deserve a Brutal murderous army that continues to kill faultless women and children who huddle in their huts in fear of the bombs that rain down on them and klllers who kick down their doors in the dead of night, undefended by a professional army, under the mercy of the killers who drop bombs on them from above and who kick down their doors at night, what have these simple people DONE to Americans to diserve a murderous CAMPAIGN by a brutal and murderous american military????

The ONLy solution that Obama can REALISTICALLY come up with to SAVE THE LIVES of the little children and defenseless women who get cut down in COLD BLOOD DAILY from the air and on the ground for NO other REASON than being Afghani and Muslim, is to PUT a STOP to This Mas Murder Campaign against the people of Afghanistan!!

Period!!!!

Stop blathering about refined mass murder methods, Zakaria, spewing venomous grabage, and you know it is VENOM deep down in your soul, Zakaria, but spewing this venom neveretheless because this is WHAT the thing that controls you and this website wants YOU to DO, i.e. call for cintnued mass murder in Afghanistan. Continued warfare in afghanistan is a recipe for MOre death of women and children, Zakaria!!

Do you have any feelings or concerns about the mass murder of little babies and their mothers by american "troops" in aghanistan, Zakaruia??

Samson151 Author Profile Page:

Afghanistan's a quagmire. Ask the Russians. We don't want one iota involvement more than absolutely required.

So what can be accomplished? We can keep the Taliban out of direct power. We can gain limited access to West Pakistan tribal areas where Al Qaeda likes to hide. We can provide some humanitarian aid.

Beyond that? Good luck.

RizwanAhmed1 Author Profile Page:

Can Fareed Zakaria or anone else explian? Why India has more then 20 embassies in Afghanistan?

How many embassies or diplomatic offices India have in USA. Search for your self, 3,4, or 5 but definately less then 20.

Whereas India has more then 20 diplomatic offices in Afhganstan? Why? for what purpose? Why India is giving million of dollars of military Aid to Afghanistan?

This is one of the key point to ponder if stability is required in that region. Peace will arise when every player (Afghanstan, Pakistan and India) is forced to behave peacefully.

vanitsky Author Profile Page:

The last 150 years of history can make anyone pessimistic about possible progress in Afghanistan.

This is the weakest point in Obama's plans. He doesn't see vast difference between mostly Arab Iraq and Afghanistan - a completely different universe.

ww_ware Author Profile Page:

Zacharia is the only useful "conservative" voice on the Wash Post editorial lineup. Unlike the failed and rabid ideolouges of jesterjeer, Krauthammer and Gerson, he actually has something intelligent to say about the issues. Put him on daily and fire the other two.

His analysis is largely valid for what I call Pashistan- the southern regions most influenced by tribal affinities connected to Pakistan and along their border. The main problem with greater Afghanistan is the same one that plagued Iraq and the Balkans; they are another bastard child of the artifical borders drawn by European imperialism.

A policy which deconstructs these false conjoinings of ancient ethnic and tribal conflicts and creates a highly particularized policy for each discrete area has the highest probability of disengaging NATO and the US in particular.

Liberal democracy, education (especially female education) and modern infrastrucure building should be exclusively relegated to Kabul, a select few bergs in Northern Afghanistan and connected to the few Northern Alliance tribal and ethnic based precincts that are receptive to these innovations.

Poppy eradication and huge agricultural assistance, with as many locally rooted technicians and workers as can be recruited and trained will suffice as policy for the more fertile Western regions of the realm.

For Pashistan we must be prepared to settle for a primitive, tribal region where sharia will prevail, but Al Quida will not. There exist esponsible Taliban leaders who will jump at this trade off.

Those elements who are terminally war-cultured and that will insist upon harassing and terroizing the rest of the country can be dealt with by Kabul on a local, para-military as opposed to a geo-military basis. Hence major Western combat forces could be out of there in approximately 3 years with such an understanding with the bulk of the the Southern and Northeastern tribes.

Mr. Zacharia has not to my knowledge considered this looser confederation schematic. It should be noted that the most tranquil sequences of British rule followed more or less the same policy. We have the disatvantage of a new kind of Opium War, but the ultimately prevailing advantage of dearly wishing for the sun to set on our garrisons.

Please forward these musings to the author as he may be inclined to favor these humble observations and put them to some useful effect.

mohantys Author Profile Page:

It is correct, Afghanistan's problem is Pakistan.The easy and quich solution to fix Pakistan is to stop immediately all American aid.Pakistani ISI and Pakistan Army will refrain from all misadventure in Afghanistan and else where. It is American's aid money to Pakistan is causing problem in Afghanistan.

RezaK Author Profile Page:

As always I appreciate Farid Zakaria's ideas and writings.I want to add something to what he has written here.
Afganistan has been in war and turmoil since decades and it will not recover overnight.Before 9/11,Afganistan was ruled by Taliban,an inhumane and extremist political regime and it is thanks to the coalition forces that Taliban were defeated and the bases of democracy and progress were established.It will take time for consolidation of these basic achievements.
I can understand that US wants to concentrate on crashing the terrorist organisation Alkaida which has caused many thousands deaths and destructions all around the world.
Since other countries present in Afganistan don't want to participate actively in this campaign,they can contribute to other duties such as education,reconstruction,drug eradication,etc.
But keep in mind that fulfiling these objectives which in my view are noble, will take a long time, perhaps 10 to 20 years.

jimsbier Author Profile Page:

Did you see Bill Moyer's show? We're about to stuck with the tar baby of Vietnam.

hellotot Author Profile Page:

Zakria is off the mark. The history of Al Qaeda doesn't start with the 9/11. It was there and its seeds were sowed by the USA. USA nourished these cadres as jihadies. Now they have carved a cause for themselves. It is not necessary to take US designed philosophy to wage jihad. Well they can have one ow their own. Pakistan's location dictates it strategic significance. Its a passive links and not a reason itself. Still much of trouble is due to the presence of occupiers. If US leaves and strengthen its homeland security, it would prove the best strategy as the threat it expects would be weaned through so many channels and when reached to homeland (USA it would be insignificant and easy to handle.Occupying nation states and keep on discussing in a circle as to how it would fix is foolish rather.

anspaugh2 Author Profile Page:

Here's how to win in Afghanistan. Legalize opium, morphine, and heroin use in the United States. This would destroy the black market in opium that funds the Taliban and other naughty Afghan warlords. Take the millions of dollars that we save from ending the war on drugs and give it to the poor people of Afghanistan in the form of aid, so they don't starve from the loss of income that results from the destruction of the opium market. See? Easy!

siddna Author Profile Page:

Mr Zakaria has, as always, laid out the problem very well and the lead up to "fix Pakistan" is also correct. However, he didn't elaborate on "why" the ISI problem is a problem.

Cause and Affect is the traditional way of explaining evolving events. By not dealing effectively with the unfinished business of Kashmir (post 1947 partition)both Pakistani (primarily) and Indian (to lesser extent) establishment are guilty of creating the labrynth of ISI. it has now become part state intelligence, part personal fiefdoms and part smartsource agency for foreign governments who has used them for proxy wars.. the unresolved Kashmir issue is the oxygen which feeds the paranoia of the Defense/Intelligence nexus in Pakistan (not forgetting the large share of the budget it eats up)

So in summary, we would all love to have Afghanistan fixed but unless the sins of the past are dealt with the echos of cause and affect will reverberate for ever without truly "fixing" Pakistan

shishirdholakia Author Profile Page:

It must be remembered that after 9/11, the US government asked the Taliban government in Afghanistan to handover Osama to the US. The Taliban government declined to do so, knowing well that he was responsible for the attack. How can one now differentiate Taliban from al-Qaida?

acpress Author Profile Page:

There are two significant errors in Fareed's article which create an unacceptable image of him in my mind. He could not possibly not know. He said "All the plots that have been traced back to the region lead not to Afghanistan but Pakistan." About Taliban he said, "They simply fled to
Pakistan, their original home." There is no evidence that plots lead back to Pakistan . All of 9/11 gang came from Saudi Arabia, not one was non-Arab and the plot was hatched in Hamburg , Germany where not one accomplice was non-arab. There is some evidence of patronage from Al-Qaida in Afghanistan; not an iota in Pakistan. As for Taliban's origin, Fareed should know that these are the abandoned children/orphans of Afghan refugees in Pakistan, mostly around border areas of Peshawar who were nurtured by Al-Qaida. Fareed should also know that Al-Qaida and Taliban were created and trained by a combined effort of CIA and Pakistan's ISI, the latter was also the creation of our intelligence. There was no al-Qaida in Pakistan before 9/11. Pakistan has destroyed itself for being an ally of the US and all that for money.Benazir Bhutto agreed with this as well.The US allies known as al-Qaida became turn-coats after the Geneva Accord with the Soviets totally agnored and abandoned them and they turned against the US and now Pakistan , their original benefactors.

zwaqas Author Profile Page:

Partially good article because although it blames ISI it just portrays that the solution is in getting the bad apples out of ISI get it into civilian rule and everything will be fine well I dont think it will happen.The more insecure Pakistan will feel the more their extremist elemnets will strenghten.The root cause is to talk about Kashmir issueas per UN resolutions from 1949. Once that is resolved either way their is more to talk. The more secure Pakistan feels in their neighborhood more they are amenable to change otherwise evrything is considered a conspitacy against the country in Pakistan.Also have Afghanistan officially accept Durand Line.

spirals Author Profile Page:

The war on drugs is a reminder of the Phonix program in SEAsia. Time someone read their history books. You need info not hatred to beat the Taliban ,

spirals Author Profile Page:

What is not being acknowledged is that the war in Afghanistan is as much a psychological war as a war of force (fire power).The key to destroying the Taliban is not just literacy of women but providing security for the education women in it's widest sense. The prime target should be the young girls who in a few years will pass on their new “world view”. They rather than conventional weapons are the thing that will bring down the Taliban and Moslem/Taliban style polices [of repression of women] inside and outside Afghanistan. Anything else is a side-show; an important side-show but a side show none the less. Have the lessons of south East Asia (Vietnam etc) been totally lost?

likovid Author Profile Page:

It is obvious that we do not have the short, mid or long term solution to this very complex puzzle. If we really want to help we should step back and try to find the solution through the locals, without getting directly involved. Our emphasis should be on how can we best help them find the way for themselves.

biggerjake Author Profile Page:

This is a good article but it really doesn't break any new ground.

The situations in Afghanistan and Pakistan just look hopeless to me, an American in India.

It boils down to "Just keep sending us money with no strings attached or we will let terrorists train and plan to attack you, and we will continue to teach our children to hate you too."

How in God's name did we ever get in this situation? And how are we ever going to get out?

As the French say, "Ce n'est pas evident."

KhalidRahim9 Author Profile Page:

The entire operation to overthrow Talibans in 2001 with help of the
Northern Alliance was with wrong footing. The aim of removing the
hated regime had little to do with reformation as described, but to
use Afghanistan as a pivot to control US strategic interests in the region. Declaration of war was the only viable solution for Cheney
and his cohorts. Bush was there to baptize the operation and give
his blessings. Since 'democracy' has been established with power of
butt and bayonet and not with free participation of all factions, it can never survive under present circumstances. The dilemma is not
Taliban, but the inept and corrupt governments established by US
establishment in Afghanistan and Pakistan. While allowing India to exert influence in Kabul and exert pressure on Pakistan.
The new administration in Washington with all the talk about her
change has to start from a scratch and not be a continuation of
Bush administration. The stress has to be on socio-economic development of both sides of the Durrand line and expenditure to be controlled by the donors and not by local governments. If
this policy is adopted the local populations will welcome the move and seeing real progress will not fall prey to any militancy.

acpress Author Profile Page:

Thanks to the US there will be no democracy in Afghanistan. One only needs to read Washington Post dispatches from Kabul ( Constable ) how the US rigged the Grand Jirga to get Karzai and the Northern Alliance seated in the power and how warlords were reinstalled and how the Poppy crop is still being used to finance the operations. The US in its state of shock after 9/11 could not distinguish between its enemies and friends and declared a war against all 2 billion Muslims of the world and lost the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In Iraq it fulfilled the dream of Ayatolla Khomeini of removing Saddam's tyrannical Sunni regime and installing an Iranian Satellite Shia regime.

GaryPeschell Author Profile Page:

Very sensible, sober and realistic observations on Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is not Iraq. Iraqi society is much more secular-minded and much better educated.
Most Iraqi insurgents have been motivated by nationlism and secuolar political motives (eg: Bathism). They have been persuaded to stop shooting Americans and go on the American payroll; the Americans, obviously, are leaving as soon as they can.

The Afghan insurgency has a large hard core of religious fanatics with whom no compromise is possible.

Then there's politics. Iraq has a large pool of pragmatic, secular-minded, well-educated politicians who see that their own and their nation's long-term interests lie in peaceful accomodation among themselves.
Afghan politics remains in the grip of warlords and rife with corruption.

jatihoon1 Author Profile Page:

Fareed Zakaria has hit nail on the Pakistan ISI head.Reform them, retire the Islamist Jahdhi gang out of ISI or better off disbanding the notorious agency and give chance to the newly elected democratic goverment to govern,most of the terroist problems will be solved.

heybabywhzupp Author Profile Page:

poppy production is the lynch pin to two important issues. 1. it is illegal but a cash crop to farmers. 2. it is major source of funding for terrorist organizations. what must be considered is a novel approach here. use poppy for the farmers and against the terrorists. consider that you cannot ban what you cannot control so therefore buy it. buy it all and then destroy it. provide security and penalties for non-compliance with the government program. this does many things. it puts money in farmers hands, it puts the government on their side, it cuts off funding source for taliban. it helps the farmer by poverty eradication, you can influence over time more to other cash crops that would be heavily subsidized, it strengthens the local government tax base. it takes the power out of nefarious groups. it puts real money in out lying areas. it stops the harassment of the poor farmer just trying to survive, it cuts off the supply of opium to world drug markets. all people want to improve themselves. they will respond with improved living standards and support for the government and projects to improve their lives, roads, schools, hospitals, jobs. and if it works here it would work in all drug-infested production areas.

hariknaidu Author Profile Page:

Look Pentagon created Taliban with ISI - Pak military intel;ligence. It is the crux of the problem. Because it is not under ontrol of the civilian government in Islamabad.

Mumbai (Bombay) attacks (26/11) was by well trained terrorists under ISI regi, according to Indian Gov. Pakistan Gov can't admit ISI involvement in terrorist activities in Kabul (bombing Indian mission to Afghanistan) and Mumbai.

Because Pentagon may not like its role to be exposed with ISI intelligence....

This is a very tricky problem for policy makers. NSC must decide how to finally cut the links to ISI and make Pak military finally come under civilain control - it may be the most difficult but significant policy task for BOs Admin.

But it can be done. Then Afghanistan will be relieved of ISI support for Taliban resurgence in Hindu Kush - eventually leading it to develop in peace.

Recall foreigners have never been able to rule the *tribal war lords* of Hindu Kush, since Alexander's Days!

moorthy1 Author Profile Page:

The real trillion dollar question is why Pakistan behave the way it does?

The answer also explains why Taliban is strong in Afghanistan.

Data -- not political correctness - should drive policy...

tskmoorthy Author Profile Page:

Zakaria and the comments by svbhat are true.The civil authority over the military establishment and ISI is non existant. Any aid to Pakistan, in the mistaken assumption of helping Pakistan is only going to bankroll the infrastructure that supports terrorism. Any attempt to enlist UN to declare Pakistan as a terrorist state will fail, till China (an all weather friend of Pakistan) also comes on board. China is the only one with any real influence on Pakistan. As of now, for China, terrorism originating from Pakistan is useful indirectly, as on the one hand USA and west and on other hand India are tied down with the problem of managing this terrorism, allowing China to pursue its strategic and economic goals.

LTC-11A Author Profile Page:

The article correctly reviews the many issues relative to bringing some sort of stability to Afghanistan.

Having worked SE Afghanistan (Paktia and Khwost Provinces) previously, I stated the following realistic facts:

There is no way the US and coalition forces can "buy" the hearts and minds of the Afghan people. No matter how many clinics or schools built, the rural nature of the culture will always prevail. I might add...who is going to staff these clinics or schools.

Sharia is the fabric that holds the culture together. This fact is embedded in the Afghan society. The prevailing view that building a court-jurist system is idiotic and absolutely unworkable.

Pakistan and the ISI play a continuing major influence in Afghanistan, in part because of the billions of US dollars from the opium cultivation.
Ask oneself...where are these opium-heroin factories..not in Afghanistan, but in Pakistan. Therefore, many in Pakistan in very high places reap the rewards death and destruction in Afghanistan.

And lastly, UBL and his followers remain in the tribal area of the Pakistan-Afghan border areas-how is that near 8 years since 9/11 these people are still alive. A true and accurate testament to the failure of the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfelt debacle.


nacllcan Author Profile Page:
"Our primary goal is to prevent Afghanistan from being used as a base for terrorists and extremists to attack the United States and its allies," Defense Secretary Robert Gates said last week. That is an admirably clear statement.

No, that is NOT a clear statement, or admirable!

Nothing about Afghanistan makes it a better hide-out or base, for those plotting and preparing mischief against us, than, for example, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, Pakistan, etc. Al Qaeda is not more or less dangerous headquartered in Afghanistan than in any other place. It just happens to have been from there that OBL financed and inspired 9/11; but he could have done the same from Hamburg Germany, or even Detroit. Let us remember: the 9/11 perpetrators were not Afghans, not the hijackers or their master mind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, a Kuwaiti. And their training was not in Afghanistan but in Florida and Oklahoma.

The endless repetition, that terrorists based in Afghanistan are more dangerous and unacceptable than if based anywhere else, is foolish and false.

Mr. Zakaria does make sense however, in directing our attention to Pakistan. There our real problem slumbers.

Enough US troops can certainly again flush the Taliban back down into Pakistan's badlands, as in 2002. But then what? Unless a tough and efficient Afghan govt and army can take over, the Taliban will, like the tide, be eternally coming in as we relax, and moving out as we turn harsh, and if the Kabul govt doesn't shape up, we seem doomed to remain there forever; and for what? What are our vital interests in Afghanistan? In some ways it is better to have the Taliban there than in Pakistan, since in Afghanistan we can Daisy Cut them harshly, without stepping on Islamabad's toes.

We have no vital interests in Afghanistan, but Pakistan is another matter. It has a nuclear arsenal. It is the primary proliferator of nuclear know-how in the world. It has sinister elements in its military. There may come a time when Pakistan becomes an open enemy of the US and we will need a base from which to proceed against her. That is the only sensible justification I can think of, for a US presence in Afghanistan.

As to the plight of the Afghan people, especially the women, of course that is a tragedy. But there are worse tragedies, as in Darfur, Zimbabwe, the Congo, where we have not committed so much as a jeep.

gary4books Author Profile Page:

Primary concern?

One may also say corruprion is not a primary concern.

But if we do not control it, we will lose the war. It is important to those who live there.

It may be hard to focus on these "other
" problems. But drugs can fund the insurgents. They are important. Plan for a six year war and it may be over sooner. Plan for a six month war, and it may last forever.

Just be ready to ambush them every time the cross the border. That will win the war.

shovandas Author Profile Page:

Fareed Zakaria's article is well written but it does not clarify the importance and danger that Pakistan presents to this effort. So long as the military and the ISI in Pakistan are in defacto control of the country, there will not be any progress to stop the Taliban and the Al Quaeda.
Aid for Pakistan has to be tightly regulated so that the military does not benefit. Arms to Pakistan has to be stopped immediately and U.N. observers have to be placed at their nuclear plants. Otherwise, the world is heading for the first " Taliban " nuclear bomb.

svbhat Author Profile Page:

Zakaria's analysis is sound, but unfortunately it reads more like a prelude. He leads us to the crux of the problem - Pakistan - but then offers no real solution other than a wistful hope that Messrs. Petraeus and Holbrooke can somehow persuade Pakistan's military and intelligence establishment to change fundamentally.

If the real power in Pakistan (namely, the military and ISI) were amenable to gentle persuasion, they would have transformed already with the "persuasion" and the billions of military and economic aid provided by the Bush Administration to Pakistan since the September 11 attacks.

That all such efforts have failed squarely is testament to the fact that Pakistan is a state too-far gone into the abyss of fundamentalism and terrorism. The time for persuasion, gentle or otherwise, is over. It's high time that the international community - under the U.S. lead - declare Pakistan as a "state sponsor of terrorism," with all the sanctions provided under U.N. Security Council Resolution 1373. This may be the only hope of saving not just Pakistan but also Afghanistan.


ramandhakal5 Author Profile Page:

It's a very good assessment of the ground realities. Everyone knows that Afghan issue is not so easy to solve, but firm actions and interventions in Pakistan will definitely help reduce if not stop, the terrorist activities. Afghans want peace and the country is making many upward moves in various sectors. Yes, the hope and expectations are high, so people seem a bot frustrated with the pace of development and security situation. Corruption and commander mentality are two major stumbling blocks along with Mullah driven fundamentalism wide spread particularly in south and eastern part of Afghanistan.

The war can be won but not only with the additional 31,000 American soldiers. Take note that USSR had 120,000 soldiers based in Afghanistan.
Raman
Currently in Afghanistan

amercrutio100 Author Profile Page:

tma_sierrahills Author Profile Page:

Re: Wars based on disastrously flawed unquestioned assumptions

I always enjoy the writer’s thoughtful and intelligent commentary both here and in what I have come to think of as ZachariaWeek. All this makes sense, but it seems that so often we go into wars on false assumptions that almost no one questions. That assumption being: When a nation harbors a nest of terrorists, we need to send in large numbers of American troops to set that nation right, or else the terrorists will "come over here and attack us at home," which is a bit like saying that to avoid getting stung by hornets we must find one of their nests and slam it with a Louisville Slugger. We have spy satellites. We have counter-terrorism organizations. We have Navy Seals. Many terrorists, such as bin Laden, like nothing better than using terrorist attacks to lure us into getting our military bogged down in endless faraway wars, causing more and more U.S. and Muslim causalities, creating dissent at home and more enemies abroad, and then finally a crippling economic collapse. Gosh, sure glad that hasn’t happened.
- - -
Border Enforcement + Immigration Moratorium = Job & Eco Sanity
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Truer words were never spoken.

tma_sierrahills Author Profile Page:

Re: Wars based on disastrously flawed unquestioned assumptions

I always enjoy the writer’s thoughtful and intelligent commentary both here and in what I have come to think of as ZachariaWeek. All this makes sense, but it seems that so often we go into wars on false assumptions that almost no one questions. That assumption being: When a nation harbors a nest of terrorists, we need to send in large numbers of American troops to set that nation right, or else the terrorists will "come over here and attack us at home," which is a bit like saying that to avoid getting stung by hornets we must find one of their nests and slam it with a Louisville Slugger. We have spy satellites. We have counter-terrorism organizations. We have Navy Seals. Many terrorists, such as bin Laden, like nothing better than using terrorist attacks to lure us into getting our military bogged down in endless faraway wars, causing more and more U.S. and Muslim causalities, creating dissent at home and more enemies abroad, and then finally a crippling economic collapse. Gosh, sure glad that hasn’t happened.
- - -
Border Enforcement + Immigration Moratorium = Job & Eco Sanity

dj333 Author Profile Page:

"Although the United States is in its seventh year of war in
Afghanistan, not one Afghan was involved at any significant level in the Sept.11 attacks. All the plots that have been traced back to the region lead not to Afghanistan but Pakistan."
___________________________

So the terrorism-supporting, WMD-possessing (and exporting) autocratic rogue state we *should* have overthrown turns out to have been Pakistan. Who'da thunk it?

Unfortunately, the problem is Pakistan's military and intelligence communities, and there it little reason to believe their civilian leadership has any real authority over either. And if news reports are to be believed, those communities are moving away from the cynical use of Islamic extremism as a tool for a basically nationalistic foreign policy, to actually being Islamic fundamentalists themselves, and believing in its goals.

Things are going to get a lot worse over there before they get much better...

ja-jenkins Author Profile Page:

What a refreshing article.

The idea of America going to war for the women of Afghanistan was always a bit of a laugh. For 5 interminably long years (at least, it must have seemed so for the women of Afghanistan) America did nothing about the Taliban - indeed, they were considered viable trade partners. Amnesty International reports (which were widely available at the time - if an ignorant and apolitical teenager - me - could get a hold of them, anyone could) were virtually ignored except in Women's magazines like Marie Claire.

SmileySam Author Profile Page:

It is not possible to " win the hearts and minds " of the Afghani while continuing the madness known as the War on Drugs. Mexico, our southern neighbor, is on the verge of collapse under the those made rich by the war on drugs. Take the profit away, regulate and tax the main cash crops .
Gen. Craddock has issued "guidance" that the NATO Forces can now consider anyone they suspect of Drugs, even those there is no proof of guilt are now legal targets. He has also said that a 10 to ratio is acceptable damage. That is Ten Innocent Civilians to kill one Hostile or Drug Farmer.
There is no way to win this with guns and death.

PostGlobal is an interactive conversation on global issues moderated by Newsweek International Editor Fareed Zakaria and David Ignatius of The Washington Post. It is produced jointly by Newsweek and washingtonpost.com, as is On Faith, a conversation on religion. Please send us your comments, questions and suggestions.