During the Cold War, U.S. support to the anti-Soviet Afghan resistance resulted in a debacle for Moscow. After the Soviets withdrew, however, Afghanistan became a disaster for U.S. policy: Osama bin Laden has taken shelter there and uses the country as a base to train militants and export terrorism; Afghan women are subjected to horrifying restrictions; Afghanistan has become the world's leading supplier of opium; and it is now dominated by the Taliban, a rogue regime that espouses a radical, repressive version of Islam. The United States must act now to weaken the Taliban and stem the spread of "Talibanism" throughout the region. To do so, Washington should (1) change the balance of power by offering assistance to the foes of the Taliban; (2) oppose the Taliban ideology--giving air time over the Voice of America to Taliban opponents and moderate Islamic leaders; (3) press Pakistan to withdraw its support; (4) aid victims of the Taliban; (5) support moderate Afghans through helping to convene a grand assembly to select a broad transitional government; and (6) elevate the importance of Afghanistan at home. U.S. failure to act will lead the Taliban to continue, and probably expand, its rogue behavior.
Originally published in: The Washington Quarterly, v. 23, no. 1, Winter 2000, pp. 65-78.
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