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Debating Afghanistan

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Danielle Pletka makes the case for victory in Afghanistan:

The choices for America in Afghanistan are simpler than they appear in the fog of political debate: We can win or we can lose. Definitions can be debated, but in short, victory will mean that Afghanistan will not be a sustainable operational haven for al Qaeda, its political and terrorist affiliates, or a base for aggression against the U.S. and its allies.

Unfortunately, al-Qaeda does not current enjoy an "operational haven" in Afghanistan - it has one in Pakistan. So we've already won!

Indeed, the idea that we need to wage a massive counter-insurgency to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven begs a number of obvious questions - what about the other countries that either are, or could become, "operational" safe havens for al-Qaeda? Do they get 100,000-plus NATO forces? And what is an "operational" safe haven, anyway? Is there a threshold number of al-Qaeda fighters whereby a U.S. invasion and occupation becomes necessary? (The 9/11 attacks were plotted in, among other places, Hamburg, Germany.)

More fundamentally - how do we know when Afghanistan ceases to be a threat to U.S. security? Most of the recent terrorist plots that have been unearthed have originated in either Pakistan or Yemen. Isn't that significant? Is there any realistic time-frame when the country could not "potentially" be a safe haven? If we couldn't achieve this in 10 years, how much more time do we need?

(AP Photo)