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Dim prospects in Afghanistan

A Q&A with former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski.

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Nathan Gardels: President Obama has stated the US objective in Afghanistan is "disrupting, defeating, and dismantling Al Qaeda." [US Defense] Secretary [Robert] Gates has said that we are not seeking to build some democratic "Valhalla" there.

Yet, now a new surge of troops is being called for to "stabilize" and "hold" areas until effective governance can take place. Yet, the recent elections disputes clearly show that is not coming any time soon.

Isn't this, therefore, mission creep toward nation-building and a long commitment in the wrong place, especially since the consensus among intelligence officials is that Al Qaeda has now moved to Pakistan?

Zbigniew Brzezinski: The growing risk that we face in Afghanistan and Pakistan is that the Taliban – still supported only by a minority – is beginning to be viewed as a resistance movement against a foreign and especially "infidel" occupation, largely American. The Soviets came to be viewed that way within a year of their invasion. When we moved into Afghanistan almost eight years ago – and with a very small force – we were actually welcomed. If we are not careful, we could come to be viewed by the Afghans like the Russians – and that would be a strategic defeat.

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