Thinking of the current Afghan conflict as a complex system--and it certainly is one in every sense of the word--makes your well-reasoned argument for US withdrawal all the stronger... but also offers some guidance to the way in which the US should withdraw.
First, the complexity perspective tells us to look for feedbacks, and one of the most dangerous feedbacks (which Professor Walt alluded to) is the impact of the US presence on nationalist feeling: the more visible the US military, the more support the Taliban will receive from Afghan nationalists.
This leads to the second point, concerning the nature (and purpose) of a US withdrawal. The question should not be, "Should the US stay or leave?" The question should be, "How can the U.S. most effectively support the creation of a stable, well-governed, secure society?" Full application of American power to create a lackey state is exactly the wrong way. Rather, behind-the-scenes American support for civil society reforms guided by non-Western societies to create a viable, independent Afghan state should be the goal.
Starting from Professor Walt's analysis of the problem, Washington needs to move toward an Afghan, Muslim, Asian solution. That is the exit strategy for the US and the road to peace for Afghanistan.
William deB. Mills
Oct 25 2009 - 11:12am