I am not an expert on Afghanistan; the only time I was ever there was so long ago they still had a king. It's obvious, though, that things aren't going very well. They never have for occupying powers, not even the British, who were good at occupying. "When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains," Rudyard Kipling wrote, "And the women come put to clean up the remains/ Just roll on your rifle and blow out your brains/ And go to your God like a soldier." The Russians had no success there either, of course. We seem to have joined the club. Zbigniew Brzezinski, who was President Carter's national security advisor, said in a speech this past weekend that only about 300 American troops were involved in the original overthrow of the Taliban in 2001. Now we have about 100,000 there, but Brzezinski says they are increasingly seen as foreign invaders, not liberators. Well, of course they are. It is not an easy country to rule. It's one of the poorest countries in the world with a traditionally weak central government and illiteracy rates around 70%--the list of problems is long. Brzezinski said in that speech, "We are running the risk of replicating...the fate of the Soviets." It's hard to argue with that. Is there a solution? Certainly not force of arms, in spite of all the talk about increasing U.S. forces there. Hasn't worked so far. Washington Post columnist Fareed Zakaria suggests making deals--shrink the number of enemy forces, he says, by making them switch sides or lay down their arms. I don't know if that will work, but it's the best idea for cutting our losses there I've heard in good while.
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