Seven steps to a secure Afghanistan
Work with Karzai, stop calling the Taliban 'terrorists,' weigh in on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, convene a security meeting on Al Qaeda, focus on Kashmir, make sure to target terrorists in Afghanistan, and take on the heroin trade.
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A joint development project for the border area, announced by both Pakistan and Afghanistan and supported by the US and the world community, will direct people's eyes to the future, rather than the past.Skip to next paragraph
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Fourth, convene a meeting of the security-intelligence departments of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Russia, China, and Saudi Arabia to devise ways of eliminating Al Qaeda's leadership. China, Russia, and Saudi Arabia have a longstanding vendetta against Al Qaeda and will contribute intelligence and other resources to rid the world of this pestilence.
Fifth, push India and Pakistan to fix Kashmir. That is doable, once both countries see a determined effort by the US in that direction. Both countries are beholden to the US: Pakistan for the military and financial support it receives and India for the atomic energy agreement it has signed with the US. Saudi Arabia can play a supporting role because of the good relations it has with both and its standing in the Muslim world.
Sixth, having deployed extra military forces on the ground, make the terrorists their target, not the people. While Predators (drone aircraft) have killed a few terrorists, they have killed too many innocent civilians. Making sure that the intelligence is right is an imperative.
Seventh, take on the heroin trade. It is a challenge that can be met by a program that America used in the 1960s in Turkey, where heroin was extensively grown and processed. The US bought the entire crop from the farmers directly and allowed them to plant alternative crops for their livelihood. There is no more heroin trade in Turkey.
Resolution, reflection, and determination are the key characteristics of Obama's personality. He should stick with them. As in all difficult issues, when people see these qualities on display, most of them will be persuaded to follow.
When the Pashtuns, among whom Mr. bin Laden hides, see the determination to get him, they will calculate differently from when they see that nobody cares. When Karzai and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari see resolution in Obama's demands for benchmarks and for settling the border dispute between their countries, they will adhere.
When India and Pakistan feel the strength of the American push on Kashmir, they will come along.
When Russia, China, and Saudi Arabia sense a seriousness of purpose on eliminating the Al Qaeda leadership, they will gladly provide whatever support they can.
When the US's financial commitments on development are met, the people of Afghanistan will regain their confidence in America's word.
Mr. Obama, when your advisers or your interlocutors tell you that you can't do this or that, just say to them: "Yes, we can."
© 2009 Global Viewpoint Network. Distributed by Tribune Media Services.