Ret. Strategic Analyst, U.S. Army War College.
Afghanistan has enormous economic potential as outlined in a recent US Army review; developing this is the key to stability. Despite fourteen years of US military support, the situation has deteriorated to the point that the senior US officer has stated flatly, “we have to provide our senior leadership options different than the current plan.”
This plan focuses on building up the capacity of the forces; it ignores the underlying reality that security simply cannot be achieved without development. No wonder Americans want out. Over 3,000 US service members and civilians have been killed and more than 20,000 wounded; direct, short-term costs come close to a trillion dollars.
The Taliban’s reach is the widest it has been since the United States entered the country while corruption severely undermines the prospects for stability. Not only has the US government focused on the military operations, so has the media; major improvements in infrastructure, telecommunications and human resources have been invisible to the American public which understandably sees Afghanistan as a black hole that eats people and resources.
Far from being a short-term solution, the military effort has evolved into a long-term quagmire. The United States has failed to provide a coherent alternative to the Taliban.
The Obama administration understands that a collapse in Afghanistan would be detrimental to US interests. Yet it continues to pursue a military solution when it needs to shift gears and focus on systematic economic development. Prioritizing economic development should be perfectly natural for the United States, the most advanced commercial economy in the world.
For the rest of this article, click here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/edward-corcoran/shifting-afghan-gears-bui_b_8642752.html