So now the United States approaches the endgame -- long predicted -- in Afghanistan.
While it is tempting at times to simply walk away, doing so serves no geopolitically sensible purpose, and indeed may be snatching certain defeat from the jaws of a very possible success.
All is not lost: The United States still has a better-than-even chance of a successful outcome in Afghanistan. That is to say, Washington should execute its strategy and move forward -- not take counsel of its fears and frustrations to abruptly depart.
The security situation and the upcoming elections have been a focus of the attendant political process. Both are, of course, important. But the real key to whether the United States succeeds will be the health of the Afghan economy and its long-term prospects. To be effective, Washington should emphasize developing growth and stability through private-public partnerships.
But what does success look like, exactly? Recognizable security throughout most of the populated areas of the country, with a low-grade insurgency rumbling around parts of the south and east; a roughly credible democratic political process, albeit with some corruption and malfeasance; a functioning economy with the possibility of improvement based on minerals; improved medical and educational benefits; and enhanced rights for women and children throughout most of the urban areas. Not perfect, but vastly better than a 14th-century existence under the Taliban.
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