Muslim Peacekeepers in Kabul

The sudden retreat of the Taliban from Kabul may shorten the war in Afghanistan and could also rule out a large deployment of US troops to that hostile land.

That's the good news. A big unknown is who can govern Afghanistan so it is never again a launching pad for terrorism.

The war has outpaced diplomacy aimed at patching together a post-Taliban government, forcing the US to line up friendly Muslim countries, such as Turkey and Indonesia, to offer troops as "neutral" peacekeepers.

That's a risky move. Much of the tensions in Afghanistan are ethnic, not religious. And the United Nations will need to provide a broad mandate to those forces in being aggressive against Afghan factions fighting one another over blood feuds.

The US has a strong stake in keeping the Al Qaeda terrorist network out of Afghanistan, even if Muslim soldiers soon patrol the streets. Perhaps the commander of the UN-mandated peacekeepers should be an American.

Juggling the interests of Afghan ethnic groups, as well as the interests of neighboring states, still requires the skill and the oomph of a big power like the US, even if it's not perceived as a "Muslim nation." While religion may play a part in US tactics, the goal is to have a world free from terrorism.

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