Zulucojeffjmitchellgetty

David Frum has a series of posts on his travels through Afghanistan:

...unlike Iraq, this is not a civil war, or even an embryonic civil war. The Taleban survive as a credible military force, ie as something more than Pashtun border bandits, because of the support they receive from the military and intelligence services of Pakistan. If and when Pakistan ever decides to shut off the Taleban once and for all, this insurgency (agree almost all the military figures we heard) would rapidly dwindle to something that could be contained and managed ... largely by the Afghan military forces themselves.

David is onto something. The most remarkable news story of the weekend was the leaked memo from the British ambassador to Afghanistan:

“The presence of the coalition, in particular its military presence, is part of the problem, not part of its solution,” Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles was quoted as saying.

“Foreign forces are the lifeline of a regime that would rapidly collapse without them. As such, they slow down and complicate a possible emergence from the crisis.”

Within 5 to 10 years, the only “realistic” way to unite Afghanistan would be for it to be “governed by an acceptable dictator,” the cable said, adding, “We should think of preparing our public opinion” for such an outcome.  

I fear that Afghanistan is as much of a trap in the long run as Iraq. And that Obama's commitment to more troops and resources there is a flawed strategy. (McCain's, of course, is unhinged from anything we might call reality.)

(Photo: A Marine carries a rucksack as eighty Royal Marines of Zulu company 45 Commando prepare to leave their base RM Condor for six months tour of Afghanistan on October 2, 2008 in Arbroath, Scotland. A total of 500 Royal Marines from 45 Commando are going to Afghanistan, Whiskey Company left last week, and the rest of the marines will leave in the next two weeks. By Jeff J Mitchell/Getty.)

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.