In the last decade, the Taliban's brand of Islamic doctrine has evolved to a transnational jihadi movement, bent on chasing the international community out of the region and establishing a pan-Islamic state. That would certainly give Al Qaeda an unfettered safe haven. Allowing the Taliban's return to power will be an enormous victory for Al Qaeda's propaganda and Islamists around the world.
Containing terrorism with aerial bombings into the Afghan plains or in neighboring Pakistan is not going to address the issues that breed extremism and recruit the next generation of extremists. In western Europe, communism was contained with a Marshall Plan that rebuilt the continent. Addressing human rights issues and building the civil capacity of the region with a viable development plan will quell the insurgency. Sustainable peace is possible but it will take time for a new generation to transform the breeding ground of terror into a beacon of freedom.
In August 2008, while running for US President, Mr. Obama told the quarter million Berlin crowd, about the dangerous currents in Afghanistan. "For the people of Afghanistan, and for our shared security, the work must be done. The Afghan people need our troops and your troops; our support and your support to defeat the Taliban and al Qaeda, to develop their economy, and to help them rebuild their nation. We have too much at stake to turn back now," Mr. Obama said.
Americans, with British and French allies, created a miracle in fortress Berlin and rescued a devastated Europe post WWII. Today with NATO's first mission outside of Europe, a UN mandate, a majority of Afghans' support, and nearly all the world powers supporting the US led mission in Afghanistan, we have an opportunity to remake the world as the post-World War II generation did so a half century ago.
Nemat Sadat, a native of Afghanistan, is completing his Master of Liberal Arts degree in journalism at Harvard University and is a candidate for the Master of Science degree in negotiation & conflict resolution at Columbia University. Sadat can be reached at email@example.com