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Nir Rosen: How We Lost The War We Won

Amy Goodman talks with Nir Rosen about his Taliban embed. Nir Rosen imbedded with the Taliban for his latest report on Afghanistan, out now in Roll

Amy Goodman talks with Nir Rosen about his Taliban embed.

Nir Rosen imbedded with the Taliban for his latest report on Afghanistan, out now in Rolling Stone. His experiences included almost being executed by a fanatical Taliban local warlord, but he came away with the conclusion that adding more troops to Afghanistan won’t work, and that we should prepare an exit strategy.

Simply put, it is too late for Bush's "quiet surge" — or even for Barack Obama's plan for a more robust reinforcement — to work in Afghanistan. More soldiers on the ground will only lead to more contact with the enemy, and more air support for troops will only lead to more civilian casualties that will alienate even more Afghans. Sooner or later, the American government will be forced to the negotiating table, just as the Soviets were before them.

"The rise of the Taliban insurgency is not likely to be reversed," says Abdulkader Sinno, a Middle East scholar and the author of Organizations at War in Afghanistan and Beyond. "It will only get stronger. Many local leaders who are sitting on the fence right now — or are even nominally allied with the government — are likely to shift their support to the Taliban in the coming years. What's more, the direct U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan is now likely to spill over into Pakistan. It may be tempting to attack the safe havens of the Taliban and Al Qaeda across the border, but that will only produce a worst-case scenario for the United States. Attacks by the U.S. would attract the support of hundreds of millions of Muslims in South Asia. It would also break up Pakistan, leading to a civil war, the collapse of its military and the possible unleashing of its nuclear arsenal."

In the same speech in which he promised a surge, Bush vowed that he would never allow the Taliban to return to power in Afghanistan. But they have already returned, and only negotiation with them can bring any hope of stability.

John McCain's strategy - following the Bush administration in handing policymaking to General Petraeus - isn't going to work any better. Talking our way to an exit from the doomed adventure in Afghanistan really is the only way out of that grim trap.

Spencer Ackerman calls Rosen's report an instant classic of war reporting and I totally agree. Just read it, ok?

Crossposted from Newshoggers

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