Drew Brown had a great article in this morning’s Stars and Stripes, in which he discussed the path to victory in Afghanistan with GEN McChrystal, the commander of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force and US Forces – Afghanistan.
I’ve talked to MG Ali, my counterpart in the Afghan National Army, about what victory would look like. To him, victory is being able to invite his Coalition advisers back to Afghanistan for a fishing trip near the village where he grew up. The way he tells it, there was a GREAT fishing hole there, but because of the insurgency, it’s now far too dangerous. There’s good news though: Because almost nobody fishes there any more, all the fish have become both big and stupid. Victory is an Afghanistan where you can fish safely with friends. And that’s worth fighting for.
To me, victory is being able to go skiing on the Paghman mountains, just to the west of Kabul. Seriously, Kabul could very easily become a PERFECT ski and snowboard destination. Think Denver, but with more snow and cheaper lift tickets. Of course the Soviet-era land mines would have to go, but one look at these mountains and you know it’s doable. Not quickly of course…I’ll probably be too old to ski before it happens, but the work we’re doing here now is going to make it possible. Victory is an Afghanistan where my kids can ski (or more likely, snowboard) near Kabul. And that’s worth fighting for.
Bottom line: I like GEN McChrystal’s view…
There’s no way to put an exact timeline on it…the Afghan people will determine [what victory is].
* Photo by Õnne Pärl, from her photo gallery