Leading article: The perils of failure in Afghanistan

Share
Related Topics

The next US Vice-President, Joe Biden, was in Kabul yesterday for talks with the Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, and the commander of Nato-led forces in the country, General David McKiernan. General McKiernan is demanding more troops and equipment from the US and other Nato countries. He seems likely to be successful because Barack Obama has made it clear that stabilising Afghanistan is one of his administration's key foreign policy objectives.

This is the right priority for the incoming US President. Before the toppling of the Taliban in 2001, Afghanistan was a safe haven for extremists and international terror groups. Unless the country is stabilised, it will become one again. That would be a disaster both for the West and the Afghan people. But we must be in no doubt what a perilous and difficult job it will be for the international community to put Afghanistan back on the right track. Militarily, the Taliban is anything but beaten. Even before yesterday's death of a Royal Marine, there has been a high casualty toll among British troops stationed in Helmand province this winter. This is ominous because winter is supposed to be the quiet season. There is every reason to expect more serious fighting over the coming year.

Greater military resources to put down the threat and protect vulnerable villages are necessary, and yet force can only be one part of the strategy. Diplomatic pressure will be needed too. The only long-term solution to Afghanistan's instability can be a regional one. As long as the Taliban is able to flit across the border to Pakistan it will prove impossible to defeat. Pakistan needs to better police its western frontier.

On the political front, the allegations of corruption that circle President Karzai's administration make matters vastly more complicated. It would be fatal for Nato forces to be seen as propping up a corrupt regime. Unless President Karzai takes action to root out venal ministers, the whole game could easily be lost.

Hope for Afghanistan is still not extinguished, but only a sustained and intelligent effort on all fronts by the new US administration and its allies, including Britain, can prevent the light going out for good.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

(Senior) IT Support Engineer - 1st-3rd Line Support

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful IT service provider that has bee...

Wind Farm Civil Design Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principal Marine Mechanical Engineer

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principle Geotechnical Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A Russian hunter at the Medved bear-hunting lodge in Siberia  

Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

Oliver Poole
Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

Hunters protect Russia's rare Amur tiger

In an unusual move, wildlife charities have enlisted those who kill animals to help save them. Oliver Poole travels to Siberia to investigate
Transfers: How has your club fared in summer sales?

How has your club fared in summer sales?

Who have bagged the bargain buys and who have landed the giant turkeys
Warwick Davis: The British actor on Ricky Gervais, how the Harry Potter set became his office, and why he'd like to play a spy

'I'm a realist; I know how hard this business is'

Warwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
The best swim shorts for men: Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer

The best swim shorts for men

Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer
Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Meet the couple blamed for bringing Lucifer into local politics
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup