Saving Afghanistan in Global Forecast: the Top Security Challenges of 2008
November 14, 2007
When asked what will be the biggest foreign policy challenge for the United States in 2008, most people cite the war in Iraq. With U.S. elections approaching and increasingly vocal calls from the American public to withdraw, questions about U.S. staying power as well as Iraq’s fragile future are expected to dominate headlines well into 2008. However, unless appropriate steps are taken now, another U.S.-led operation—the war in Afghanistan—threatens to become equally intractable for policymakers on both sides of the Atlantic for years to come. Afghanistan is heading in the wrong direction, and short of a complete overhaul of NATO strategy, it threatens to take its people, the future of the Alliance, and transatlantic relations along with it.
Several missteps over the last two to three years have gradually eroded outsiders’ confidence and taken Afghanistan off its early positive trajectory. As in Iraq, the initial military operation was successful, meeting little resistance and quickly eliminating the Taliban regime, which had provided safe haven for al Qaeda. Neglecting the lessons of previous interventions, though, which suggest that reconstruction is fundamental to long-term stability, the coalition made mistakes that continue to haunt the mission to this day.
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