Afghanistan. Pakistan. Forgotten.

by Joe Biden

That is where those who attacked us on 9/11 came from, where the attacks in Europe since originated and where Al Qaeda is regrouping. It is the real central front in the war on terrorism.

Afghanistan is slipping toward failure. The Taliban is back, violence is up, drug production is booming and the Afghans are losing faith in their government. All the legs of our strategy — security, counternarcotics efforts, reconstruction and governance — have gone wobbly.

If we should have had a surge anywhere, it is Afghanistan. And instead of eradicating poppy crops, which forces many farmers to turn to the Taliban, we should go after drug kingpins.

We also need to make good on President Bush’s pledge for a Marshall Plan for Afghanistan. In six years, we have spent on Afghanistan’s reconstruction only what we spend every three weeks on military operations in Iraq.

Afghanistan’s fate is directly tied to Pakistan’s future and America’s security. When President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan concluded that we were not serious about finishing the job in Afghanistan, he began to cut deals with extremists in his own country.

As a result, the border area remains a freeway of fundamentalism: the Taliban and Al Qaeda find sanctuary in Pakistan, while Pakistani suicide bombers wreak havoc in Afghanistan.

The recent Pakistani elections gave the moderate majority its voice back and gives the United States an opportunity to move from a Musharraf policy to a Pakistan policy. To demonstrate to its people that we care about their needs, not just our own, we must triple assistance for schools, roads and clinics, sustain it for a decade, and demand accountability for the military aid we provide.

If Afghanistan fails or Pakistan falls to fundamentalism, America will suffer a terrible setback. The candidates should tell Americans how they will handle what may be the next president’s most difficult challenge.

Joe Biden is a Democratic senator from Delaware.

via//New York Times

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Posted in Afghanistan, Bush Adminisration, Democrats, Elections, Pakistan, US Foreign Policy, War on Terror

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