Wednesday, September 23, 2009

India’s Foreign Minister Says U.S. War in Afghanistan Ineffective

As President Obama assesses sending more troops to Afghanistan, the WSJ is quoting the Indian Foreign Minister as Saying “No Military Solution for Afghanistan”.
India, believes there is no military solution to the conflict in that country and that NATO combat operations should give way to a political settlement with the Taliban, according to Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna.
"India doesn't believe that war can solve any problem and that applies to Afghanistan also," Mr. Krishna said in an interview with the above Wall Street Journal on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York. "I think there could be a political settlement. I think we should strive towards that."
The statement is hugely pertinent coming from the world’s biggest democracy, which has faced repeated Taliban and Pakistani militant insurgency for the past 20 year. So they speak from experience.
Fighting the Afghan war requires a large army of foot soldiers who can go from village to village clearing out the Taliban. This however is mission impossible, because the lines of demarcation between militia and civilians are blurred. The Taliban for the most part is not an organized army but a bevy of poor and uneducated village recruits. Joining the Taliban is often the only job in town. In a country with roving militia gangs and rampant corruption, most villagers are sympathetic to the Taliban, as they are often the only folks looking out for them.
In such a situation how do you fight these civilian blended and geographically dissipated armies? How many people can you kill after all? Will killing all the Taliban militants in a given village solve the problem? No, because there will be several other people willing to take their place.
Yes, the U.S. military should certainly take out the leaders of the Taliban and their lieutenants, but beyond that the battle is ineffective unless the economic and political landscape of Afghanistan is transformed to provide people with a viable alternative.
That is why we would urge President Obama to live up to his election promise and bring American troops home by encouraging a political and economic solution in Afghanistan.

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