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"The Zombie War in Afghanistan"

U.S. soldiers inspect the site of suicide attack in Kandahar, Afghanistan, Dec. 18, 2010. A suicide bomber attacked an armored car carrying a district chief, killing himself and one civilian bystander, Afghan sources said.
AP Photo

"The Zombie War in Afghanistan"


December 20, 2010

Author: Stephen M. Walt, Robert and Renée Belfer Professor of International Affairs; Faculty Chair, International Security Program

Belfer Center Programs or Projects: International Security


Perhaps you noticed the following two headlines from last week's New York Times (print edition; the online headline is different):

"U.S. Will Widen War on Militants Inside Pakistan" and "Germany Will Begin Afghan Exit Next Year."

Those two stories tell you a lot about the situation in Central Asia, especially when read in the context of the latest strategy review. Surprise, surprise: that review reaffirmed virtually all of the Obama administration's justifications for continuing the war, and offered just enough upbeat assessments to support a continued effort. At the same time, it provides just enough prophylactic pessimism to appear "realistic."

But what's missing in all this role-playing was a clear and convincing statement of costs and benefits. For all the talk of defeating al Qaeda (which isn't in Afghanistan any more), or preventing "safe havens," the administration scrupulously avoided the question of whether the money spent, lives lost, and presidential time consumed is worth it in terms of advancing core American interests....

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For Academic Citation:

Walt, Stephen M. "The Zombie War in Afghanistan.", December 20, 2010.

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