Four steps to success in Afghanistan

Now that the United States has committed itself to Afghanistan for another 10 years, the most important policy Washington could adopt in Afghanistan is one that helps the Afghans effectively govern their country on their own. To have any hope for success, the US and Afghanistan must accomplish these four goals.

4. Improve Afghan literacy

Finally, the US and Afghanistan should work to massively increase the literacy of the Afghan people and to ensure they remain literate long after America’s departure. As in most other countries, literacy is the key to social mobility in Afghanistan. It allows people to independently access the marketplace of ideas, and it prevents today’s children from becoming tomorrow’s Taliban.

If Americans and Afghans accomplish these four goals over the next 10 years, the US has a chance of leaving Afghanistan better than we found it. If we fail, it is quite possible that a resurgent Taliban will recapture the nation as soon as American forces leave.

Matt Zeller spent eight months in 2008 as a US Army trainer for the Afghan security forces in Ghazni Province. In 2010, he ran for Congress from New York’s 29th District. His book “Watches Without Time: An American Soldier in Afghanistan” has recently been published.

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