In an article in the Newsweek International Edition due out Oct. 2nd, Clark tackles another quagmire, Afghanistan....
More on the flip....
In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, U.S. forces achieved a rapid, high-tech victory over Afghanistan's terrorist-supporting Taliban government. Five years later, the Taliban is back. But this is a different fight. Not only Afghanistan but NATO itself is at risk.
Fingers are pointing. Washington didn't commit enough forces.
The Europeans are too timid. The central government is weak. All that might be true. But the real problem grows out of how the United States defined its mission to begin with. That was to strike the Taliban but not get stuck in Afghanistan. We don't do "nation-building," American leaders declared, as if that were something to be proud of Besides, the troops would soon be needed in Iraq.
...and NATO's as well.
It's not as though NATO forces are incapable of fighting the insurgents. By body-count and loss ratios they're doing well, using heavy firepower to clobber the Taliban wherever fighters mass in conventional battle. But the real war isn't military; it's political and economic. Destroying a few Taliban units here and there certainly retards their goal of regaining full control of the country. But it doesn't provide what's essential: continuous security and the chance for political and economic redevelopment to take hold. Ultimately, that's the only thing that can defeat the Taliban. Meanwhile, NATO's own credibility is on the line--yet it hasn't deployed the political, economic and military resources to win.
And offers these solutions:
All of this is a far cry from the lessons NATO and the United States gleaned from their successful peacekeeping operations in the Balkans. There we learned that we needed strong legal authorities, overwhelming military power, a comprehensive political and economic plan and close coordination with a high representative or special representative for the U.N. secretary-general to link nation-building activities on the ground with our military security operations. We put more than 40,000 troops into tiny Kosovo in 1999, with one tenth the population and one sixtieth the area of Afghanistan. In Bosnia, we had an international donors organization that measured progress and held contributing nations accountable. We knew that if the political-economic mission failed, NATO would fail. And we were determined not to fail.
I know the situation in Bosnia and Kosovo isn't perfect, but compared to Afghanistan and Iraq, it is a ripping success.
What we need in Afghanistan and Iraq are diplomatic, political and economic solutions.
Of course the "gang who can't shoot straight" has no interest in any solution that doesn't include dropping very large bombs. Let's hope and pray that the European members of NATO read this article and take a different course.