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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Afghanistan--Where's the Diplomacy?

The great debate about Afghanistan begins, again. Like most things in the American adversarial tradition, it has only two sides: more troops or fewer? Bombs or boots on the ground? Guns or butter?

How tedious, predictable and simple-minded. Meanwhile the chorus of Afghanists overlooks the central point about this conflict, and stability as a whole in this region. It does matter to the United States because it matters to all of Afghanistan’s bigger neighbors. So where is the diplomacy? Those who place great faith in Mr. Holbrooke can be sure it’s happening in private at a feverish pace.

But the public message matters, too. Why isn’t Hilary Clinton making appearances with her counterparts across Central Asia in order to show solidarity for peace and good governance in Afghanistan? Where is the “contact group” for this country that some people say is so important. Where is the steady, deepening and widening pattern of consultation that the US desperately needs, no matter which course it chooses inside the country.

General George Marshall once said, “if you give a problem to the military to solve, you’ll get a military solution.” Don’t be surprised if this one doesn’t turn out as planned

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