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The world can't ignore the Al Qaeda and Taliban threat in Afghanistan

A surge by the US and its allies is needed in the country.

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A triple alarm sounded on Afghanistan last week. Three reports by reputable, nonpartisan groups in the US concluded that it's a country verging on failure. It needs more troops and aid, the reports said. The international community must step up – and soon.

Despite President Bush's encouraging remarks about this "young democracy" in his Jan. 28 State of the Union address, all is not well.

Yes, hospitals and roads are being built, and boys and girls are going to school, as Mr. Bush said. But last year saw the highest casualties since the post-9/11 invasion in 2001 (mostly of insurgents), as the Taliban fights hard in the south. The former rulers can now launch suicide bomb attacks in the capital of Kabul. The war looks like a military stalemate.

The increased violence reduced the number of children attending school in Afghanistan by 50 percent in 2007, and private investment also plummeted. Meanwhile, the opium trade that bankrolls the Taliban flourishes.

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