Thursday, May 04, 2006

The Way To Win Hearts and Minds is Not Through Shock and Awe

This Lieutentant General in Afghanistan, Lt. Gen. Karl W. Eikenberry, has the right idea. Someone is finally figuring it out.... U.S. Commander in Afghanistan Thinks Locally

"The real soldiers in Afghanistan are not necessarily wearing uniforms," Eikenberry said in a brief speech to Afghans in this provincial capital northeast of Kabul. "They are providing health care, teaching your families, building the community." For most of the 23,000 U.S. troops stationed in Afghanistan, the main task is still to hunt down, capture or kill anti-government fighters. But after several months of intensified attacks by insurgents, including roadside and suicide bombings, Eikenberry argues that the most effective antidote is to strengthen and protect Afghanistan's weak central government. The day-long visit to Mehtar Lam, one of Eikenberry's weekly trips to remote areas across the country, had a carefully scripted agenda of nation-building, and its main target audience was the Afghan public. By giving a high-profile, bearhugging welcome to Laghman's newly appointed governor, Gulab Mangal, Eikenberry firmly endorsed President Hamid Karzai's strategy of shifting respected leaders into provinces where they have no ties. The goal is to immunize governors from local politics as they attempt to fight corruption and terrorism.
Violence will not win the "War on Terror." It never has and never will.


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