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Pacifying Afghanistan: a dangerous dream

Does President Obama realize the difficulty of the task faced by America’s young men and women there?

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If Gen. Stanley McChrystal prevails in persuading President Obama to insert more US troops in Afghanistan, do Americans understand the difficulty of the task they'd face?

Do they understand that even more of our young men and women would be charged with pacifying a savage mountainous land the size of Texas? One where nearly every male older than 8 stands willing to die in the fight against foreign occupiers?

Even McChrystal doesn't guarantee victory over Taliban insurgents, let alone predict how many decades would be required to win.

"Decades" is a long time for an American public that watched its troops beat back both Nazi Germany and imperial Japan in just four years. Americans turned against the war in Vietnam as the years wore on. The war in Afghanistan is now in Year 8.

As a reporter I have been to Afghanistan, twice with Soviet troops in the mid-1980s and several times in 2001 and 2002 with the Americans. One thing Afghans do well is fight to the death.


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