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Finish the Job

How the War in Afghanistan Can Be Won

Courtesy Reuters

Pessimism abounds in Afghanistan. Violence, NATO casualties, corruption, drug production, and public disapproval in the United States are at record levels. Ahmed Rashid, a prominent Pakistani journalist and an expert on the region, declared the U.S. mission in Afghanistan a failure in his scathing 2008 book, Descent Into Chaos. Seth Jones, the leading U.S. scholar on the Taliban insurgency, has argued that the United States had an opening to make a difference in Afghanistan after 2001, but that it "squandered this extraordinary opportunity." U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates attempted to manage expectations when he testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee in January 2009. "If we set ourselves the objective of creating some sort of Central Asian Valhalla over there, we will lose," he argued, "because nobody in the world has that kind of time, patience, and money." U.S. policymakers and the public increasingly doubt that the war

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