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Slogging It Out in Afghanistan

Authors: Stephen D. Biddle, Adjunct Senior Fellow for Defense Policy, and Michael E. O'Hanlon, Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy, Saban Center for Middle East Policy, Brookings Institution
March 25, 2011
Washington Times


How is it really going in Afghanistan? In his recent testimony before Congress, Gen. David H. Petraeus reported substantial if fragile progress and conveyed a can-do attitude reflecting confidence about our prospects. Yet press reports and some organizations and individuals on the ground seem to grow more dispirited by the month. Is this mission really doable - and should we stick with it?

In fact, both supporters and critics of the current effort in Afghanistan make valid points. Based largely on a recent trip there under U.S. military auspices, we find the military gains promising. At the same time, the challenges of working with the Afghan and Pakistani governments remain severe, and the insurgency is proving very resilient. On balance, given the stakes and the natural path toward a gradual exit inherent in current strategy, it makes little sense to pull up stakes prematurely. The war is a slog, but a slog worth sustaining.

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