Commentary: Avoiding an Afghanistan quagmire

This editorial appeared in The Kansas City Star.

As the United States increases troops in Afghanistan, the temptation is to look back at our success in dampening violence in Iraq, which is allowing a drawdown of troops in that country. While security in Iraq is a very fragile thing, it is now a less violent place than it has been in years.

The more difficult view, however, is looking forward. Will adding more troops to the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan do anything more than, as al Qaida likes to say, add more fuel to a raging fire?

In recent days, two U.S. officials most responsible for the turnaround in Iraq have visited the Kansas City area.

Ryan Crocker, a former ambassador to Iraq, has just retired, giving him the freedom of time to reflect. Gen. David H. Petraeus has moved from overseeing the Iraqi surge to overseeing Central Command, which includes Afghanistan and Iraq, so he's a bit more urgent.

Both talk about the enormous difficulties awaiting an "Afghan surge."

To each, Iraq was difficult, but it had huge advantages, including money, an educated population and a history less blighted by internal conflict. Iraq, for instance, made $60 billion in oil sales last year, about five times Afghanistan's gross domestic product.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Kansas City Star.

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