President Obama has vowed to remove US troops from Afghanistan by 2014. But the war with al Qaeda and its allies cannot be "ended" — it can only be won or lost. Despite the negative stories about Taliban raids and insider attacks, the US-led effort is actually on a path to success. Afghanistan is the jewel in al Qaeda’s crown, and the extremists who want to bring their fight back to US soil are desperate to recapture it. Do we have the resolve to defeat them?
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Is the war in Afghanistan lost? What did the surge accomplish? Is al Qaeda really on the run? Vice President for Foreign and Defense Policy Studies Danielle Pletka and Critical Threats Project Director Frederick W. Kagan of the American Enterprise Institute discuss these and other questions about the war in Afghanistan.
Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen, which has already attempted three attacks on the United States, is stronger now than it was before the start of the Arab Spring. The Yemeni government, America’s counter-terrorism partner, is weaker. The danger to America from this virulent terrorist group is growing. And our current strategy is unlikely to succeed.
We are looking for success too quickly and abandoning hope too soon. The outcome remains balanced on a knife’s edge, but a collapse of the situation on the ground is unlikely as long as we remain active and partnered with the Afghan security forces and the Afghan people.
The U.S. mission in Afghanistan has suffered serious setbacks recently. The Taliban’s audacious September 14 attack on a major coalition base in Helmand Province suggested that the security gains in the south remain fragile and reversible, and that the insurgents are trying to make a comeback as foreign troops are withdrawing.