Afghanis-stay?

President Obama is looking at a very difficult decision over whether to increase American military strength in Afghanistan knowing full well he will be going alone in terms of NATO Country participation. With the lessons of Vietnam still fresh in Americans’ memories, following that path into a quagmire is not very attractive. But Afghanistan is not Vietnam, for better or worse.

Last evening I heard former Afghan President Pervez Musharraf speak. It appears he is new to the speakers’ circuit because he seemed to really care about the content of his speech and anticipated well the general lack of knowledge his audience might have about Pakistan and Afghanistan. His bottom line was that America must increase troop strength if there is to be any chance of controlling extremism.

Musharraf pointed out that it was not killing insurgents that would lead to success but rather the establishment of a stable Afghan Government that could return the four major tribal groups (Pashtun, Tajik, Hazara, and Uzbek) to joint cooperation, and that would be critical to controlling extremists in Afghanistan and Pakistran. At times Musharraf almost sounded like longing for the olden times of the Afghan Kings.

Musharraf seemed confident that the Taliban would not overthrow the Pakistani Government, now or ever. Listening between the lines he was suggesting that keeping the Taliban boxed into the boarder region between Afghanistan and Pakistan, and in essence letting them waste away there, was the best strategy.

It is, however, the other side of the equation that plays to very limited American strength, Nation Building. With a country like Afghanistan with so many ethnic groups and such a long history of tribal rule, how can one imagine a modern state to emerge in a short time? But Musharraf’s warning was very clear. Abandon Afghanistan at your own peril.

So will it be Afgh-gone-istan or Afghanis-stay. My bet is President Obama will decide to stay but my wish is for the US to leave unless fully supported by most of the G-20.

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