"We are in Afghanistan to prevent a cancer from once again spreading through that country. But this same cancer has also taken root in the border region of Pakistan. That is why we need a strategy that works on both sides of the border." -- United States President Barack Obama, speech at US Military Academy at West Point, December 1, 2009
A scientifically tested, immediate non-military solution to the Afghanistan conflict is now available that will work on both sides of the border and throughout the Middle East, thereby fulfilling President Obama's greatest hopes for the region.
Before we describe this solution, first consider the question, "What would be a satisfactory set of outcomes in this conflict?" Five sets of interests need to be considered: those of 1) the US and the Western alliance; 2) the Afghani rulers; 3) the Afghani opposition; 4) the Afghani people; and 5) Afghanistan's neighbors. These interests appear to be very difficult to reconcile.
President Obama wants to withdraw from Afghanistan 18 months after sending 30,000 additional U.S. troops there because the costs to the US and the West are unsustainable. The purpose of the US and Western participation is principally to deny terrorists a haven in Afghanistan. The US and West, upon their departure, wish to leave behind a stable government, a growing economy, improved quality of life, less extremism, a government sensitive to and able to resist foreign meddling, and a reduced drug trade. They do not want a civil war, a takeover of Afghanistan by its neighbors, a flood of refugees, or a never-ending tale of woe.
Islamic extremists may well be happy to see the US and Western militaries bogged down in an expensive, endless conflict in Afghanistan. In this situation, extremists have increased freedom to pursue their own objectives without fear of attack -- a reasonable course of action from their perspective, given the US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq, formerly the strongest military nation in the Islamic world. Thus, the Afghanistan conflict represents for these groups an opportunity to blunt and defeat any further Western attempt to defeat Islamic extremism through military means.
The government and its opposition are in a struggle for power and advantage. Corruption, drugs, and the enormous sums of money expended in the conflict further exacerbate this struggle. The opposition seizes whatever measures available for its own advantage, including fanning the flames of extremism, so worrisome to the US and the West.
Thus, the Afghanistan situation appears to be intractable. These competing interests illustrate the thorny problems faced on the ground: as long as any party to the conflict is not satisfied, its members have the power to continue the conflict. In the confusion and incoherence in Afghanistan, there seems to be no vision of "victory" and no path to attain it.
It may be a surprise to military leaders, then, to hear that a scientifically validated military solution to the Afghanistan conflict exists. The Afghanistan conflict, in fact, provides an ideal arena to demonstrate the efficacy of this new approach -- which can be implemented in a few months, not years. The solution is very inexpensive -- less than 1% of the amounts currently being spent. Moreover, it is humane -- once it is applied, all parties to the conflict find their interests are being fulfilled.
At the core of this proven non-military solution is the establishment and deployment of a "Prevention Wing" of the military, in which a large cadre of military personnel or contractors is trained to create coherence in the "collective consciousness" of a nation through the application of specific, field-tested technologies of consciousness. The "fog of war," the incoherence created by the deep-seated religious, political, and ethnic tensions that fuel conflict, is itself the enemy. A Prevention Wing dissipates this confusion and incoherence by boosting coherence in the collective consciousness of the nation -- and if the Prevention Wing is sufficiently large, these effects spread to the surrounding region as well.
Basic training for the Prevention Wing cadre is instruction in the Transcendental Meditation (TM) program, the most extensively studied practice of meditation in the world today, as well as instruction in the advanced applications of this program. The cadre would assemble twice daily to practice these technologies of consciousness, which create profound brainwave coherence in the individual, as verified in studies of EEG and biochemistry. As shown in over 50 replications and 23 published studies, this effect of coherence radiates from the group out into society and creates a measurable influence of order and positivity in social trends. This phenomenon is known to science as the "Maharishi Effect" in honor of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of the technology and the first to predict its impact in society. As these studies show, war violence drops dramatically only days after deploying a coherence-creating group practicing this technology. For example, during the Lebanon war, seven independent replications confirmed that war intensity, war casualties, war injuries all declined precipitously through the application of this human resource-based approach to peace.
In addition to its impact on war, this technology also influences many other measures of social well-being. Indicators of order in society improve, including the economy (reduced inflation, increased valuation of businesses, etc.), creativity (more patents), and intelligence (degrees conferred, etc.). Indicators of disorder decrease dramatically, including crime rates, disease rates, accident rates, etc.
The technology has been successfully deployed in hotspot nations around the world. Joachim Chissano, former President of Mozambique, credits this technology with ending approximately 30 years of conflict in his nation. "First," he said, "I started the practice of Transcendental Meditation myself, [and] then introduced the practice to my close family, my cabinet of ministers, my government officers, and my military." Once a Prevention Wing of the military had been established, he was very impressed with the aftereffects: "The result has been political peace and balance in Nature in my country," he said.
For the Afghanistan situation, characterized by significant turbulence and influenced by neighbors on every side, a group large enough to create an influence throughout the entire region will be required. For the US, with a population of 300 million, a group of 1,750 is predicted to produce the necessary impact. For the populations of Afghanistan (28 million), Pakistan (180 million), Iran (74 million), and the whole region, a similar-size group will be necessary. To expand this peace-creating influence to the global population, only 8,250 trained experts would be sufficient to produce the desired impact.