Increased fatalities and dwindled public support have put pressure on President Obama to end the war quickly. According to icasualties.org, 1,530 coalition soldiers, including 928 Americans, have died in Afghanistan since 2001. The death toll has spiked by 64 percent so far this year over 2008. Public support for the war too has evaporated. A CNN poll at the end of October 2009 showed only 42 percent Americans support the war, down from 56 percent six months back. Worse, 7 out of 10 British want their forces pulled out from Afghanistan.
Under pressure from war weary Americans, President Bush had sent 18,000 additional troops to Iraq at the request of General Petreus, in 2007. With such surge, together with the co-optation of the moderate Sunnis, Petreus had snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. McChrystal will be all too happy to replicate Petreus’s success. But is such an outcome possible in Afghanistan?
Yes, but only if the United States is able to take Kabul’s key neighbors on board. In Iraq, only the Shiites-majority Iran had strategic influence, and Washington’s policy to stabilize Iraq coincided with Tehran’s quest to empower Iraqi Shiites. In contrast, several countries with divergent interests – Pakistan, China, India, Iran, Tajikistan...
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... away and compel Comrade Prachand to form a new government with a clean slate or to pave the way for UML or some other party that is willing to form an all-party government and give momentum to the task of writing the constitution.
At least for two reasons, UML must make a move before it is too late. First, its leader Madhav Nepal heads the Constitution Drafting Committee, and he and UML will get the sharp edge if the constitution is not drafted on time. Secondly, the Nepali people will blame UML for the current joyride, of the Maoists and the Forum, which has become possible only on the back of UML.
UML has the capacity and obligation to prevent Nepal from going down the path Zimbabwe. If it fails to do so, it will have to be prepared to lose its existence to extremist left forces and sustain the irreparable damage for not rising to rise to the occasion.
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