How do you negotiate a truce with scattered bands of thuggish bandits fighting not for secular objectives but for religious fundamentalism? Let Afghanistan's elected government fight them. Negotiating a truce with a diverse groups of guerrillas will only undermine the Karzai government's authority and leave people increasingly skeptical of the power of the central government. With the U.S. preoccupied with the war in Iraq in this election year, and EU countries worried about Iran's nuclear program, this is the worst time to consider beefing up troop reinforcements in Afghanistan. Besides, the problem is complicated by Pakistan's ambiguous attitude toward the Taliban; Islamabad has skillfully used them to bargain more military aid from the US and to keep the warring tribes (including rival Taliban factions) quarreling with each other so that it can influence Afghanistan's strategic future.
Let's now turn the tables on Pakistan and ask it to send troops to fight in the Afghan war if it wants military and economic aid from the US to continue: after all, Pakistani ISI military intelligence played a big role during the Cold War in arming the mujahedeen that today constitute the Taliban leadership. The Karzai government will strongly resist Pakistan's involvement, of course, but then it will give it an additional motivation to shape up and clean up its own house without depending on outside forces.
The Taliban thrives on ignorance and indigence of local populace. In order to win the war against the Taliban, the Karzai government should open up more roads, build more schools and housings, start more television stations, supply more electricity, and create more urban centers -- i.e., focus more on economic projects to win the hearts and minds of the Afghan interior. The answer is not to bring in more foreign troops.
In today's war against Islamofascism, there's no stronger weapon than the free flow of information from the outside world. Show pictures of how a fellow Muslim country like Turkey or Malaysia is doing, or of how the once impoverished countries like India and China are advancing. It will be a much more potent weapon than the barrel of a gun.
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