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New Doubts About Afghanistan

Author: Leslie H. Gelb, President Emeritus and Board Senior Fellow
January 25, 2010
The Daily Beast


This week might well mark a new pessimistic high among U.S. military and Pentagon leaders about the war in Afghanistan, as well as an attendant new willingness to deal with some of the Taliban. It sure looks like the military brass most deeply and directly involved in the war are sending signals to the White House. Most certainly, it isn't that they're just thinking out loud. The question, as always, is whether the Obama team is listening-and what it is hearing.

"[T]here's been enough fighting," said General Stanley McChrystal, the U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, in a stunning interview in The Financial Times. "What I think we do is try to shape conditions which allow people to come to a truly equitable solution to how the Afghan people are governed." Asked about Taliban leaders participating in a future government, he responded: "I think any Afghans can play a role if they focus on the future, and not the past." The general's openness to dealing with the Taliban sits well with the international conference on Afghanistan set for Thursday in London, where America's allies and others like the idea of trying to settle with the Taliban.

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