NATO’s Dangerous Afghan Dream

NATO's plan to withdraw US and other troops by 2014 will not mean the end of the war, because the enemy will continue to target Western interests, wherever they may be. Indeed, the hope on which the plan is based – that terrorism can be regionally contained – is a dangerous exercise in self-delusion.

NEW DELHI – The agreement at the NATO summit meeting in Lisbon on a transition plan to help end the war in Afghanistan within the next four years raises troubling questions about regional security and the global fight against transnational terrorism. As the US and other coalition partners gradually wind down their combat role, Afghan security forces – to number 300,000 after crash training of new recruits – are to take their place. But these local forces are unlikely to be able to hold the country together.

The most likely post-war scenario is a partition of Afghanistan, with the Taliban calling the shots in the Pashtun-dominated south and east, and the non-Pashtun northern and western regions retaining their current de facto autonomy.

Regionally, there is likely to be greater turmoil. The withdrawal of NATO forces before the job is done will leave India on the front lines to face the brunt of greater terror from the Afghanistan-Pakistan belt. In fact, NATO’s retreat is expected to embolden jihadists in the region – and beyond it – to stage transnational attacks.

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