Afghanistan Dilemma

August 7, 2009 • Volume 19, Issue 28
Is President Obama pursuing the right course?
By Thomas J. Billitteri


A U.S. Marines began a massive assault in the area to quash insurgent violence and strengthen. (Getty Images/Joe Raedle)
A U.S. Marine frisks an Afghan man in southern Helmand Province on July 5. Marines began a massive assault in the area in July to quash insurgent violence and strengthen Afghanistan's legal and security institutions. (Getty Images/Joe Raedle)

Nearly eight years ago, U.S. forces first entered Afghanistan to pursue the al Qaeda terrorists who plotted the Sept. 11 terror attacks. American troops are still there today, along with thousands of NATO forces. Under a new strategy crafted by the Obama administration, military leaders are trying to deny terrorists a permanent foothold in the impoverished Central Asian country and in neighboring, nuclear-armed Pakistan, whose western border region has become a sanctuary for Taliban and al Qaeda forces. The Afghanistan-Pakistan conflict — “Af-Pak” in diplomatic parlance — poses huge challenges ranging from rampant corruption within Afghanistan's police forces to a multibillion-dollar opium economy that funds the insurgency. But those problems pale in comparison with the ultimate nightmare scenario: Pakistan's nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorists, which foreign-policy experts say has become a real possibility.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Jan. 14, 2022  After Afghanistan
Aug. 07, 2009  Afghanistan Dilemma Updated
Jun. 2007  Afghanistan on the Brink
Dec. 21, 2001  Rebuilding Afghanistan
Regional Political Affairs: Middle East and South Asia