Archive for February, 2009

The Surge Afghanistan Needs

Saturday, February 14th, 2009

More local security forces and a better constitution are keys to success.

The Taliban’s synchronized suicide bombings on government buildings in Kabul this week will no doubt intensify President Barack Obama’s desire to bring security to Afghanistan. On the campaign trail, Mr. Obama pledged to make the country the centerpiece of his foreign policy, calling for an Iraq-like surge of thousands of troops. Recently, he and Vice-President Joe Biden have also made it clear that they’ve lost patience with President Hamid Karzai’s weak leadership and his toleration of corruption.

But the surge that Afghanistan needs isn’t in U.S. troops, it’s in strengthening governance and Afghan security forces. Without improvements in these areas, no president and no amount of troops can stabilize Afghanistan.

Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke, currently in the region, should make it clear to the Afghan people, if necessary through a blunt announcement, that the U.S. prefers Mr. Karzai not seek another term. Mr. Holbrooke should also meet immediately with the Afghan Parliament to discuss what can be done to improve governance, and to discuss possible changes to the disastrous 2004 Afghan constitution.