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Flipping the Taliban

How to Win in Afghanistan

Authors: Fotini Christia, and Michael Semple, Former Deputy to the EU Special Representative for Afghanistan
July/August 2009
Foreign Affairs


President Barack Obama's proposed deployment of 21,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan is necessary to tip the balance of power against the Taliban. But it will not be enough. Washington and its allies must accompany the move with a political "surge," an effort to persuade large groups of insurgents to give up their fight. This can be done: in Afghanistan, battles are often decided by defections rather than fighting, and for many members of the Taliban, the insurgency is less a matter of ideology than a way of life.

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