commentary

(CNN.com)

March 4, 2009

Afghanistan: The Regional Solution

by F. Stephen Larrabee

The Obama Administration's decision to commit another 17,000 troops to Afghanistan is unlikely to have an important effect unless it is part of a broader shift in U.S. and coalition strategy.

Given that the insurgency in Afghanistan is fueled by radical Islamic groups based across the border in Pakistan's north-west, any strategy that concentrates primarily on Afghanistan has little prospect of success. What is needed is an approach that recognizes the important linkage between the insurgency in Afghanistan and its roots in Pakistan, and which also takes into consideration how India fits into the broader regional security equation.

A strategy toward Pakistan should be an integral part of a plan to stabilize Afghanistan. This strategy should include a coherent package of economic assistance. Mass anger at rising food prices and electricity cuts could again lead to widespread protests and undermine support for Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zadari. The resulting instability could wreck any hope of Pakistan continuing, let alone intensifying, its campaign against the insurgents in the largely ungoverned tribal areas that border Afghanistan.....

The remainder of this op-ed can be found at ac360.blogs.cnn.com.


Editors Note: F. Stephen Larrabee holds the Corporate Chair in European Security at the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decision-making through research and analysis. Julian Lindley-French is a Professor of Military Operational Science at the Netherlands Defence Academy. This article is adapted from a forthcoming report by RAND and Bertelsmann Foundation titled Revitalizing the Transatlantic Security Partnership: An Agenda for Action, which they co-authored.

This commentary originally appeared on CNN.com on March 4, 2009. Commentary gives RAND researchers a platform to convey insights based on their professional expertise and often on their peer-reviewed research and analysis.