Opinion

Opinion

Obama should listen to commanders

December 23, 2011

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— Gen. John Allen insists that there is “no daylight” between him and President Obama about policy for continued troop withdrawals from Afghanistan next year. That may be technically true, but a political battle is brewing over the future pace of the U.S. military drawdown here.

Allen, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, says the White House hasn’t given him any timetable for further cuts after September 2012. That’s when the last of the 30,000 “surge” troops Obama dispatched will be gone, leaving about 68,000 U.S. soldiers.

“No one has conveyed to me that at the end of September I’m going to get a number” for more withdrawals through 2013, Allen said in an interview here Tuesday. He said the president’s policy, as he understands it, is for a “strategy-based drawdown” that’s driven by the situation on the ground, rather than a preordained timeline.

Yes, but that’s precisely what the debate is about.

According to Pentagon officials, Allen favors keeping most of the 68,000 in place until late 2013, so that the U.S. has two “fighting seasons” to bolster Afghan troops before giving them full responsibility in 2014. But Vice President Joe Biden and some other administration officials want a commitment to steady, sustained withdrawals through next year’s election campaign. Allen told me that “there could be a quicker drawdown” if military conditions allow but that there is no “glide path.” Some in the White House would disagree.

Does this sound familiar? It mirrors the wrangle that surrounded Obama’s December 2009 decision to send more troops but start withdrawing them in July 2011 — and the debate this year about how quickly the 30,000 should come home. Obama could make it easy if he just left the decision to his commander. But for Obama on Afghanistan, nothing is easy.

Behind the issue of troop withdrawals are some interesting but little noticed changes Allen has made in Afghanistan strategy since he became commander in July, taking over from Gen. David Petraeus. Basically, Allen wants to accelerate transfer of responsibility to Afghan troops in some key regions — preferring to take these risks sooner, when the U.S. has more troops available for backup, rather than later.

Allen’s adjustments involve the transition schedule: He shortened this process and front-loaded it. In the latest phase, announced last month, he included the once-shaky capitals of Ghazni and Wardak provinces; the next phase, in spring  2012, may include volatile Nuristan and Kunar provinces on the Pakistan border as well as Helmand and Kandahar provinces, two key battlegrounds in the south. By mid-2013, responsibility could be transferred for Paktia, Paktika and Khost provinces, three hotspots on the eastern border known as “P2K.”

“Nobody knows how it will go after Afghan troops take the lead,” explains one U.S. commander. “What you want is enough troops to back the Afghans up credibly, so they don’t lose confidence.” One reason this speedup is possible, he says, is that security has improved this year in southern Afghanistan, where another commander says attacks are down about 8 percent compared to a year earlier. This allows more U.S. forces to move east, where the fight is harder.

At a meeting Wednesday in Kandahar, U.S. officers described what they said was improved security in the southern provinces of Oruzgan, Zabul and Kandahar — and better performance by Afghan troops. Such upbeat reports have sometimes proved premature. But Gen. Ray Odierno, the U.S. Army chief of staff, said after the meeting: “My take-away is that the Afghan army and police are making progress, and in some parts are beginning to take the lead.”

What about the Taliban? They appear to have had a tough 2011, but intelligence reports indicate they are making plans to take control of some provinces after 2014, on the expectation that Afghan forces won’t be strong enough to stop them.

One boon for the Taliban is that governance is very poor in most parts of Afghanistan. That’s the weakest link of the U.S. strategy — and a problem even the optimists don’t contest.

“As Gen. Allen moves forward, he needs flexibility to execute his strategy,” argues Odierno. But it will fall to Obama whether to endorse such a flexible, “strategy-based drawdown,” or opt for a faster timetable — with its political appeal for a war-weary America.

My sense is that Obama should listen to his commander in the field — especially when he seems to be speeding up the process that would allow withdrawal of most U.S. troops by 2014.

David Ignatius is a columnist for Washington Post Writers Group. His email address is davidignatius@washpost.com.

Comments

tbaker 3 years, 6 months ago

Having spent nearly two years in Kabul to date, I must say I can't disagree with a single thing you said Mr. Getto. The reason what you suggest won't happen, and why my grandkids will be serving here, is because no President wants the utter collapse of Afghanistan on his resume. This is exactly what will happen if the U.S. and NATO leave. The “country” (very liberal use of the word) will fracture along the centuries-old intra-tribal boundaries, and become two or three autonomous post-modern nation-states in their own South-Asian sort of way. What will be labeled “civil war” will resume with a vengeance having been postponed on account of fleecing the Western world for every penny of aid they can get their hands on for the past decade. The presumption some “strong” central government in Kabul can influence the governance, development, and security of the far corners of this very remote country is simply child-like in its conception. As you say, only the tribes can find peace.

Flap Doodle 3 years, 6 months ago

Remember that Joe "where's the Xanax?" Biden has declared that the Talaban isn't our enemy.

tbaker 3 years, 6 months ago

You're correct Vertgo, but thats not why we are still here.

cowboy 3 years, 6 months ago

Bring our troops home , let Allah sort out Afghanistan

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 6 months ago

The saddest part about this whole story is that most Afghanis had no idea in 2001 who Al Qaeda was, or that 9/11 had even happened, and most are still largely ignorant of it. Even the Taliban leadership was appalled at what had happened on that day. But BushCo were predisposed to seeing only full-out military solutions to anything.

Nearly the whole world would have lined up behind the US in demanding that the Taliban turn al Qaeda over to international criminal courts for their crimes. And the Taliban themselves (who are really nothing more or less than a political/military/religious expression of the Pashtun majority in Afghanistan) were primed to react to international pressure to moderate their hardline form of Islam.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 6 months ago

Your reinterpretation of history reads like a cheap novel. The only appropriate reaction to 9/11 was a military reaction, whether or not Bush and Co. were predisposed to it. And the Taliban's response was certainly not one of cooperation. They insisted we provide them with evidence and then they might consider turning over whomever they determined might be involved. If you believe that they would have turned over Osama, then you really do believe in Santa. And let's not forget, the Taliban was not the legitimate government of Afghanistan. The United Nations clearly stated that and ordered it's members not to recognize the Taliban. Only three countries did, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and (I forget at the moment). Really, Bozo, if you are a member of one of the peace churches, like the Amish, that shuns violence always, then I can understand condemning our military response. But that's not you, is it? And if you're one of those who always believes whatever someone says, then you might believe the Taliban. But for you to side with them over the U.S., even if our president is someone you can't stand, that's just downright foolish.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 6 months ago

My reinterpretation? Just because you buy into militaristic BS (whether its from BushCo or the Israelis) doesn't mean that your drinking of the koolaid has any basis in "history."

jhawkinsf 3 years, 6 months ago

The fact is, Bozo, you buy into military responses all the time, except from the U.S. and Israel. With them, it's always wrong.
If ever in the history of our country a military response was necessary, it was after 9/11. (And of course after Pearl Harbor).
For you to think other wise puts you in the company of only those legitimate peace churches I mentioned and fools. Choose.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 6 months ago

"But for you to side with them over the U.S., even if our president is someone you can't stand, that's just downright foolish.'

And really, what purpose is served by this concluding straw man?

jhawkinsf 3 years, 6 months ago

I didn't bring up "BushCo.", you did. and you mentioned his predisposition to military response. Of course, we'll never know what he would have done had 9/11 not happened. I suspect he would have served one inglorious term, just like his father. The country was in no mood for him after the 2000 election. But whatever you think his predispositions might be, maybe, perhaps, who knows...the fact is we were attacked and he responded. And the fact remains that a military response to 9/11 was the only response. How that was conducted, we can discuss further, and probably agree on many points since the campaign was conducted poorly. But the fact that there was a military response should be open to debate only to people like Mother Teresa, the Amish, etc. I suspect you would say Bush was wrong if he said the sun rises in the east. Bush was like a stopped clock, right twice a day, wrong much more. But when he decided that a military response to 9/11 was appropriate, that was one of those rare moments when his clock aligned with all the clocks that were correct.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 6 months ago

Translation-- the only tool you recognize is a hammer, and so you think that hammering away at any problem is the only possible solution.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 6 months ago

A hammer is necessary, sometimes. This was one of those times.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 6 months ago

Yea, if you don't mind an eternal game of whack a mole.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 6 months ago

My question then is very simple, Bozo. Do you believe that a military response is never the appropriate response? (as in the peace church example I mentioned). A slightly less simple question then is that if a military response is sometimes necessary, but as you claim 9/11 is not one of those cases, then when?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 6 months ago

A military response is always the result of a lot of preceding bad decisions and policies.

This is no exception.

And what's with your obsession over "peace churches?"

jhawkinsf 3 years, 6 months ago

I'll answer your question, even though you choose not to answer mine. My use of peace churches was just an example of people who are consistent in their shunning of violence. Others, like Mother teresa might be included in that. Most of us though know that there are times when violence must be met with violence. It's a sad truth, but it is true. 9/11 is the clearest indication of that truth that I can imagine, at least in my lifetime.
Having politely answered your question, please be so kind as answer mine.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 6 months ago

So you're a fan of endless cycles of violence.

And exactly what is your question?

jhawkinsf 3 years, 6 months ago

I said violence was sad, but true. That doesn't make me a fan. The question was, are you consistently opposed to violence, (like the peace church I mentioned). Is a military response always wrong in your opinion? And the followup question was if you do not have those feelings, and you feel 9/11 was one of those situations where a military response was not appropriate, then could you give me an example of another situation where a military response was justified?

jhawkinsf 3 years, 6 months ago

P.S. Gotta go to that job I created, so I'll continue this dialogue later.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 6 months ago

"The question was, are you consistently opposed to violence,"

I think the answer is quite obvious, isn't it?

I'm not opposed to self-defense, but this was not self-defense. Whatever continued risk that al Qaeda and/or the Taliban posed, there were better ways of dealing with that than a full-scale attack and invasion.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 6 months ago

Given the escalating nature of Al Qaeda attacks on the U.S., why would you believe that attacks would not come in the future. They attacked the U.S.S. Cole about one year earlier, killing 17 Americans. They attacked embassies in Africa. And then there was 9/11. If our response was not one of self defense, what was it. Do you own a crystal ball that tells you their attacks on Americans was going to end but for our response? Remember, after the attacks in Africa and after the attack on the Cole, international warrants were put out for Al Qaeda leaders. The Taliban knew this and ignored them. If nothing else, they should have taken note of the cruise missile we sent in to kill Bin Laden. They chose to harbor known terrorists. They gave assistance to known terrorists. And after 9/11 they chose not to cooperate with efforts to bring them to justice. They suffered the consequences.
If someone has attacked you repeatedly, and those attacks are escalating, and you have every reason to believe they will continue, then you have the right to respond. That's exactly what the definition of self defense is.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 6 months ago

The invasion of Afghanistan was not self-defense. It was military adventurism, and it created more problems (and blowback) than it solved (as it always does.)

jhawkinsf 3 years, 6 months ago

That's just not true.
If someone punches you in the nose and you expect him to do it again, then punching him in the nose and the mouth and kicking him in the groin is self defense. You don't have to wait until he punches you again and again and again and again and again....

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 6 months ago

But that's not what we did. What we did was to invade the homes of millions of innocent bystanders and hold them hostage for ten years, and caused the deaths of tens of thousands of them in the process. And we're still doing it.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 6 months ago

As I stated earlier, the Taliban were not the recognized legitimate government, having diplomatic relations with only three countries and having specifically been denied recognition by the U.N. They then went on to terrorize gays, women, minorities of all sorts. And they harbored known international terrorists.
Why would you not consider us to be liberators? Civilian deaths and injuries are a tragedy whenever they happen. And they happen in every conflict that has every happened. But that doesn't mean that every conflict that has ever happened shouldn't have happened. Precautions should be made to minimize civilian losses. No effort will be perfect, but our precautions were better than those of either Al Qaeda or the Taliban.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 6 months ago

"Why would you not consider us to be liberators?"

Because liberators liberate. And very little about the American occupation has been liberating.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 6 months ago

Ask the women, gays, minorities of Afghanistan if they have been liberated and you will get a different answer than if you ask the Taliban. When the concentration camps were liberated, the guards and the "residents" probably gave different answers as well.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 6 months ago

BTW, you still haven't answered my question as to why we chose to attack Afghanistan.

The attacks of 911 were launched from Boston and other American cities, primarily by Saudis, not Afghans.

Why didn't we invade and occupy Boston?

jhawkinsf 3 years, 6 months ago

Occupy Boston, really? Neither Boston nor Saudi Arabia sanctioned the attacks, therefore were not legitimate targets. Afghanistan harbored and assisted known international terrorists and therefore were legitimate targets. Of course the easiest answer is that we attacked Afghanistan because that's where Al Qaeda leaders were and that's where the training facilities were.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 6 months ago

BTW, al Qaeda was much more a creation of Saudi Arabia and the UAE (and even the CIA) than it was of Afghanistan. Why didn't we invade them? (although invading the CIA would be a bit incestuous.)

jhawkinsf 3 years, 6 months ago

Maybe we should invited the Taliban and Al Qaeda over here for a sing-a-long of Kumbaya.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 6 months ago

BTW, I don't harbor any illusions that if the US hadn't invaded that Afghanistan would be some shining example of liberal democracy with a broad respect for human rights.

To the contrary, I merely think that it would have improved marginally (but still significantly) over what it was (and is) and saved the US taxpayers $billions and thousands of both Afghani and American lives. And the process of Afghanis fixing their own problems would be a decade ahead of where it is now.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 6 months ago

The Taliban set Afghanistan back a hundred years, putting them somewhere in the 8th. century. If they would have been a decade further along, I doubt we would notice. But who would notice, and certainly not be included in any advancement would be women, gays, ethnic minorities, religious minorities, and certainly not religious statues of any kind. They would have suffered terribly, just as they suffered prior to our campaign. But you neglect to mention that they harbored terrorists that killed thousands of Americans. And for that alone, they deserved to be on the receiving end of our military.
Do you really believe the Taliban would have turned over to the U.S. Bin Laden and the senior members of Al Qaeda? If you do, you're in a minority of one.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 6 months ago

"Do you really believe the Taliban would have turned over to the U.S. Bin Laden and the senior members of Al Qaeda?"

No attempt was ever made, so we'll never know, will we?

jhawkinsf 3 years, 6 months ago

Not true. Our military response was several weeks after 9/11. The Taliban had ample opportunity to make their intentions known, and they did. They were not going to turn anyone over and for you to suggest that we will never know is just plain wrong. I know. If you don't, it's what you would call "willful ignorance".

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 6 months ago

BushCo never considered anything other than a military response, and the main reasons for the delay (in no particular order) was 1) to prepare for the attack and 2) disappointment that it might delay or even derail the military campaign they'd salivating over for a decade-- the invasion of Iraq.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 6 months ago

A non response. Again, the Taliban had the opportunity to turn over Al Qaeda and they chose not to. Just as can get ready, we can stand down, if they acted in a way that they should have. They didn't.
They had weeks to respond. Their non-compliance spoke volumes.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 6 months ago

BTW, I don't particularly like the Taliban, but I'm not a member of the Pashtun majority of Afghanistan, of which the Taliban largely consist, so it really doesn't matter if I (or you) like them or not.

And whether we like it or not, the folks that make up/support the Taliban WILL be part of Afghanistan's society and government.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 6 months ago

So are you withdrawing your claim that the Taliban were given an opportunity to do the right thing and they declined? Are you withdrawing your claim that the U.S. response did not give them that opportunity? Come on, Bozo, you make these claims and then when challenged, you simply move on to the next topic. Just say it. The Taliban were given the chance to turn over Bin Laden and they chose not to. That, along with the events of 9/11 made our response totally appropriate.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 6 months ago

They didn't "decline" to do the right thing. They offered to arrest bin Laden so that he could be put on trial several times.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taliban#NATO_invasion.2C_Taliban_overthrow_and_insurgency

"That, along with the events of 9/11 made our response totally appropriate."

It took a decade to finally find bin Laden (not in Afghanistan) the country is as big a mess (if not bigger) than it was under the Taliban, we're stuck in a quagmire that's a major contributor to our economic mess, and that was the "right thing?"

jhawkinsf 3 years, 6 months ago

The Taliban had weeks to turn Bin Laden in. They clearly stated that "if" we provide evidence that "they" deemed sufficient, then they "might" turn him and others over to "some" appropriate entity. Certainly Bin Laden went into hiding. However, when the Taliban were in charge, they were all out in the open. The Taliban knew what was going on. Or at least they should have known after the Cole incident. We sent in a cruise missile then, that should have been noticed.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 6 months ago

So what? It still doesn't justify invading that country. And while you might consider it hindsight, there were plenty of us predicting that an invasion of Afghanistan would be a disaster.

And guess what-- we were right (even if you are incapable of acknowledging it.)

jhawkinsf 3 years, 6 months ago

While you're predicting, I'll predict that had we not invaded and neutralized Al Qaeda (mostly), that ten more 9/11's would have followed. No, make that 20. No, wait, make that 100 9/11's would have followed. There would have been dirty bombs set off in every major American city with radioactive materials supplied by Pakistan. No, wait, every major city in Europe as well.
We can all guess, Bozo.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 6 months ago

Guess all you want. I don't need to. The invasion and occupation of Afghanistan have been a very real disaster. One that didn't need to be.

jaywalker 3 years, 6 months ago

What a load of garbage, bozo The "Taliban leadership" was appalled by 9/11?! Please refrain from making things up. It's incredibly laughable to insinuate that Taliban were "primed" for diplomacy in order to root out their brethren (whom they supposedly didn't know about even though they had terrorist camps throughout Afghanistan). Jhawkins is right, you're living in a fantasy world.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 6 months ago

Yes, they were appalled. Maybe not for strictly humanitarian reasons, but because even though they weren't involved they knew they would bear the blunt of the retaliation.

jaywalker 3 years, 6 months ago

I asked you to please refrain from making things up. Just this once. You have absolutely no evidence to support any of that garbage.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 6 months ago

It's been widely reported that the Taliban condemned the attacks. Please don't try to blame me for your ignorance.

jaywalker 3 years, 6 months ago

Sorry, charlie, but you're the only one displaying "willful ignorance" here. The only thing that was widely reported was that the Taliban ambassador to Pakistan denounced the attacks while simultaneously pronouncing Bin Laden's innocence. A denunciation so sincere that not a single Al Qaeda terrorist camp in Afghanistan was shut down by the Taliban after the attack, and after we invaded more than half the combined Taliban forces were made up of Al Qaeda.

Brilliant as ever, bozo.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 6 months ago

And it wasn't just that ambassador who condemned it. Why do suppose they did that? Because they approved of it, or because they were appalled (for whatever reasons?)

Oh, sorry, I posed a question that might actually require you to think.

jaywalker 3 years, 6 months ago

It's sad but expected that you can't see any 'thought' in the previous post.
Perhaps this is merely inconvenient to your argument, but haven't you given any THOUGHT to the fact that it's not rare for a country or a group to denounce some dastardly act that they in actuality approved of, supported, or even took part in?
Considering Al Qaeda was welcome in the country before, after, and still; considering a day after the attacks the ambassador included in his denunciation an assertion of innocence for Al Qaeda's leader, Bin Laden; and considering Al Qaeda has been fighting side by side with the Taliban, it doesn't require a leap in logic to discern the insincerity in one ambassador's denunciation.
It just takes an active, rational mind. Too bad for you.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 6 months ago

"it doesn't require a leap in logic to discern the insincerity in one ambassador's denunciation. "

Are you really that naive? Do you really think that there was ever even the slightest consideration as to whether there was any sincerity in these statements? Or that there might be alternatives to a massively destructive and deadly military attack?

BushCo wanted only one "solution," and they weren't going to allow themselves to consider any other. Just like you.

jaywalker 3 years, 6 months ago

" Do you really think that there was ever even the slightest consideration as to whether there was any sincerity in these statements?"

Pretty sure I outlined exactly how easy it was to grasp the insincerity.

"BushCo wanted only one "solution," and they weren't going to allow themselves to consider any other. Just like you."

Your obsession is morphing Godwin-esque. Like I said, this is all just inconvenient for your argument, which inevitably turns to "everything is Bush's fault." And supposedly I'm the one working with a closed mind. Uh huh. Naive is believing there was some other option like diplomacy with a devoted and demented everything-West-hater like the Taliban, who had allowed countless Qaeda training camps throughout their country and staunchly believed Bin Laden was innocent.

Alyosha 3 years, 6 months ago

The only thing "screwed" is a radical group of Republicans in government who prevent anything necessary from happening.

President Obama is nearly equivalent to Ronald Reagan in his policies, yet Republicans have become so radicalized that people can't see the truth in front of their faces.

As for generals: in the US, the military is run by civilians — politicians — exactly as the founders wanted it.

If you want generals running things, move to a military dictatorship like North Korea.

Merry Christmas!

jaywalker 3 years, 6 months ago

"The only thing "screwed" is a radical group of Republicans in government who prevent anything necessary from happening."

Oh please. That's the way it's been for all our lives. And it goes both ways.

Fossick 3 years, 6 months ago

"My sense is that Obama should listen to his commander in the field — especially when he seems to be speeding up the process that would allow withdrawal of most U.S. troops by 2014."

My sense is that Obama is the commander in chief, and his generals ought to shut up and do their jobs as defined by their boss.

beatrice 3 years, 6 months ago

All presidents should listen to their commanders, but none should do so with blind obedience to their suggestions. If that is what we wanted, why even bother with a president at all? Might as well just have the military in control. I'm not so sure that would work out in our best interest.

verity 3 years, 6 months ago

It appears to me that Mr Ignatius is trying to dredge up a fight. "General John Allen insists . . . ," but Mr Ignatius is not going to take him at his word and is trying to stir up controversy. Of course, if your column is due, you have to come up with something.

There is usually disagreement over how the military and the civil government think a war should be fought, because they are looking at two different sides of the situation. You might be able to win a war militarily but lose it politically. In the case of Afghanistan most if not all invasions over the millennia have ended with both a military and a political loss. Isn't that what is blamed for the final episode that tumbled the Soviet/Russian empire?

There is a reason that a civilian is the CIC of the US military.

George Lippencott 3 years, 6 months ago

Well, if I understand the process, the civil authority decides what is to be done. The military provides recommendation as to how to achieve the military goals set by the civilians. The civilians can accept or reject it. Supposedly they then work out an acceptable compromise. The president cannot direct the military to do what it feels it cannot do – it will be appealed to the Congress and the people. You do not want to politicize the military. It has been rumored that Mr. Bush did exactly that when confronted with a need for large forces in the initial invasion of Iraq. The forces were not requested for combat but to secure the peace thereafter. He limited the mission to defeating the Iraqi armed forces and reduced the need for large numbers of troops. That banner on the carrier meant exactly what it said. The military had completed the mission assigned – they had defeated the Iraqi armed forces. Then the mess evolved.

Now it seems apparent that we have decided to get out of Afghanistan as fast as we can. But I have heard no change in the mission of building a “state" there. If that is the case the dichotomy will create problems between the military and the civilians.

All that needs to be done is to bring consistency between our stated goals and the resources we are willing to commit. That is a civilian function.

Blessed4x 3 years, 6 months ago

"He said the president’s policy, as he understands it, is for a “strategy-based drawdown” that’s driven by the situation on the ground, rather than a preordained timeline."

Sound familiar? My how the tables have turned.

tbaker 3 years, 6 months ago

Killing Taliban is easy, and the US has become incredibly proficient at it to the point they cannot be replaced fast enough. The NW provinces of Pakistan are literally being depopulated of military aged males dumb enough to cross the border and fight. We (NATO/US, etc) are slowly figuring out that a generation of educated Afghan children terrifies the Taliban more than anything the US military can do to them. That goes double for girls. The brick and mortar part of building schools is the easy part, and a lot of it is going on. Staffing, supplying, and protecting them is the hard part. The Taliban do atrocious things to school children, which crosses the line with the Afghan tribal leaders. The Taliban are in a Catch 22. Kill the children, or let their minds be filled with knowledge and learning that will lead the next generation of Afghans to shun them and their primitive, barbaric ways. Either way the Taliban, and by extension, their benefactors in Pakistan loses. Never forget it is not in Pakistan’s interest for Afghanistan to ever be peaceful and prosperous.

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