NEW YORK – President Obama's recent trip to Afghanistan highlighted the growing American and international perception that without better governance Afghanistan will fail.
As President Obama apparently made clear in his late night meeting with President Hamid Karzai, no matter what other progress is made, America and its allies cannot succeed in Afghanistan unless the Afghan government succeeds—and that government is moving in the wrong direction. Until this changes, all other efforts will ultimately be in vain and current levels of international engagement with Afghanistan will become unjustifiable.
The United States and its Afghan and NATO allies have demonstrated unmistakable progress in Afghanistan this year. The ongoing Marja campaign, the arrest of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and two Taliban "shadow governors" in Pakistan, and the recent drone strike hitting top leaders of the Al Qaeda-affiliated Haqqani network are all clear steps in the right direction.
President Obama has defined America's goals in Afghanistan as denying Al Qaeda a safe haven, reversing the Taliban's momentum, and helping the country's security forces and government "take lead responsibility for Afghanistan’s future." To this end, Obama launched an 18-month military "surge" with the backing of other NATO member countries, to be followed by the beginning of withdrawal.