It’s also crucial that we drop any plans to pull out of Afghanistan entirely. Curtis recommended “a robust residual force presence” there beyond 2014, and with good reason. We need the people there to know that the U.S. will remain engaged -- diplomatically, financially and militarily -- for the foreseeable future. After all, the main reason Pakistani officials continue to support Taliban proxies such as the Haqqani network is because they think the U.S. will pull out of Afghanistan before the situation is stable.
In that event, as far as they’re concerned, the Haqqanis give them the best chance to secure their interests. But if the U.S. announces that it will leave a robust number of forces in Afghanistan beyond 2014, the Pakistanis will know we’re committed to finishing the job.
Administration officials may not be thrilled with what Robert Gates wrote about its conduct of the war in Afghanistan. But if they wish to leave a legacy of success in foreign affairs -- as well as ensure our future security -- they should take heed.
As Carafano writes, “What we need from the White House is leadership that reestablishes America’s ability to influence outcomes in the region for the good -- rather than trumpeting easy ‘fixes’ while doing as little as possible.” Now’s the time to display that leadership
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