After nine years of war in Afghanistan, the U.S. appears to have hit the reset button. General David Petraeus is in, not only to replace a back-talking general but also to jump start a stalled counterinsurgency effort that has failed to defeat the Taliban or win over more converts. The Obama Administration is asking for more patience from Congress and more troops from increasingly wary NATO allies. While there is talk of a new beginning the realities of Afghanistan are far gloomier: there are no real alternatives to dealing with a universally acknowledged corrupt government run by the troubled Hamid Karzai; European allies are indeed heading for the exits; and the American public is restless, with an unofficial 2011 withdrawal date looming. Can the U.S. escape the graveyard of empires with its pride intact; never mind leaving a functioning Afghan state behind?
Rina Amiri, Senior Advisor to Special Envoy to Afghanistan & Pakistan Ambassador Holbrooke