The recent White House meetings with Afghan Prime Minister Karzai generated photo ops and a joint statement, but the road from here through the end of 2014 should be filled with lots of twists and turns.
Some of President Obama's key points:
- By year-end 2014, Afghans will have full responsibility for their own security;
- The war will come to a "responsible end;"
- al-Qaeda can never again use Afghanistan as a launch pad for attacks against the U.S.
- Our troops will continue "to fight along side Afghan troops, as needed;
- More than 2,000 U.S. soldiers have lost their lives in the war;
- Our remaining troop presence after 2014 will be involved in training, advising and assisting Afghan security forces.
"What will happen after we leave Afghanistan? A lot less than we think. More like entropy, or a regression to the mean, than like a civil war. A slow drift to regionalism, with the increasing irrelevance of the Karzai kleptocracy we have empowered. On the plus side, IED attacks and other terrorist violence will decrease dramatically. So will corruption; without US backing, corrupt officials will be removed by local consensus or the time-tested remedy of assassination. Afghans are natural capitalists and they will continue to create businesses and try to improve the lot of their families."Let's hope she is right.
As we are committed to direct future economic aid to Afghan priorities, it is well to remember that education of young women is still not a widely accepted goal, except through the network of village elders. The Taliban's position is not something consonant with our values. The good news is that work is being done through well-regarded, private groups like the Central Asia Institute.
Greg Mortenson and star students at the Sitara School.
The continuation of private social and humanitarian aid, under the umbrella of a strong, economically rational and principled foreign policy, will be the best medicine for the citizens of Afghanistan