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Pro-con on setting an exit date for Afghanistan

We often make the mistake of thinking of the Taliban as an inexorable part of Afghan culture, but the Taliban have only existed for about 15 years. They are a young organization, especially for Afghanistan's ancient and tradition-rich culture, and the Taliban's roots do not reach far. The idea of an entire insurgency just ducking under a rock for a few years is pretty silly. It's one thing for al-Qaida's hundred or so remaining operatives to hop between mountain caves, but the Taliban is a thousands-strong army. It doesn't hide, it disarms. If the years between disarming and America's departure see little progress, then rearming is indeed a possibility. But there's evidence that much of the Taliban's force would have neither reason nor desire to rearm if Afghanistan's economy and governance improve. — Marc Ambinder, the Atlantic

President Obama will send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan, but he'll "begin the transfer of our forces out of Afghanistan in July of 2011." Why send them? If you're going to tell the Taliban to be patient because we're leaving, what's the point in upping the blood ante — for what will come down to a single year by the time the troops hit the ground? Does Obama really expect to achieve in one year what we haven't been able to do in more than eight? Our president is setting up our military to fail, but he'll be able to claim that he gave the generals what they wanted. Failure will be their fault. How do the Marines and soldiers slated to go to Afghanistan feel today, knowing that their commander in chief has already declared defeat? — Ralph Peters, New York Post

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