Afghanistan needs political surge, not military, to gain stability: Op-Ed

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WASHINGTON, May 31 (APP): The war in Afghanistan will end with a
political settlement, not a military victory, writes a former National Security Council official, as President Trump weighs options to break the stalemate in the war-torn country.
Writing for The Hill, an online political magazine, Douglas Lute, who
served as US ambassador to NATO until this year, said it was important to look beyond military approaches and look for political solutions.
Recent media reports have said that President Trump is reviewing the
situation in Afghanistan in the backdrop of request for a troops surge in Afghanistan by military generals in the Pentagon as a 16-year-old American war has failed to bring stability to the country.
“For too long, American policy has fixated on the security situation and
the military means required to address it,” wrote Lute who was a US policy coordinator in Afghanistan during President George Bush and Obama’s administrations.
“The military effort has been a shiny object that has captured our
attention while the political roots of the war and potential political approaches to resolving it have been discounted, under-resourced, or even ignored,” the article said.
But, military tools alone can sustain the current stalemate, but not
reverse it, the former NSC official observed, saying that adding a few thousand or even many more troops will not substantially change the situation.
“Ending the war primarily through military means is a mirage”.
The article pointed out that Afghanistan’s relations with key neighbors
are also stalemated, especially with Pakistan, but also with Russia and Iran. For its part, it said, US attempts at regional approaches to stabilizing Afghanistan have not been effective due to competing, higher priority interests.
In Pakistan, the US interests include suppressing terrorist groups, and
the stability of the oten tense Pakistan-India relations. US interests in Russia is focused on Ukraine, the crisis in Syria. With China too, it said US has more important interests than stabilizing Afghanistan.
“The net effect is that we have tended to discount regional approaches and focused on stabilizing Afghanistan from within, which cannot possibly work,” the former Ambassador said.
Finally, he said, in spite of years of efforts, the US has yet to gain traction on an Afghan-le political approach to the Taliban.
Saying that the war in Afghanistan will end with a political settlement, not a military victory, the former ambassador stated that the US should consider anew with its Afghan partner what it would take to move towards a political settlement, “using both military means and political compromise to improve chances of success”.