The Trouble With Afghanistan II

By Patrick Appel

Dov Zakheim considers the challenges:

We would not be where we are today if the Office of Management and Budget, in its myopia, had not withheld significant funds for aid to Afghanistan in 2001-2003, a time when there were perhaps 30,000 troops -- from all nations -- in the country, when the drug trade had not yet blossomed, when the Taliban was on the run. A serious infusion of such financial and economic assistance would have given the Afghan central government considerably more credibility, and given Afghan farmers a viable alternative to poppies. And it would have made the Taliban even less attractive to the ordinary Afghan.

Obama is not being unilateral by doubling our troops.

We can, and should, demand more economic and financial assistance, as well as materiel support to our forces, from the Europeans, as well as the Asians and the Arabs -- as we did in 2002-2004, with some success. (Full disclosure: in my job as civilian DOD coordinator for Afghanistan, I spent a lot of time rattling the tin cup around the world.) Involving these states materially, as well as the EU, multilateralizes the war in Afghanistan in a very real way, creates support in the UN, and helps us to work alongside otherwise skeptical NGOs as well.