Opinion

Empowering dependency 10 years on in Afghanistan

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Malou Innocent
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      Malou Innocent

      Malou Innocent is a Foreign Policy Analyst at the Cato Institute. She is a member of the International Institute of Strategic Studies, and her primary research interests include Middle East and Persian Gulf security issues and U.S. foreign policy toward Pakistan, Afghanistan, and China. She has appeared as a guest analyst on CNN, BBC News, Fox News Channel, Al Jazeera, Voice of America, CNBC Asia, and Reuters. Innocent has published reviews and articles on national security and international affairs in journals such as Survival, Congressional Quarterly, and Harvard International Review. She has also written for Foreign Policy, Wall Street Journal Asia, Christian Science Monitor, Armed Forces Journal, the Guardian, Huffington Post, the Washington Times, and other outlets both in the United States and overseas. She earned dual Bachelor of Arts degrees in Mass Communications and Political Science from the University of California at Berkeley, and a Master of Arts degree in International Relations from the University of Chicago.

The new U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Marine General John Allen, said recently, “The plan in Afghanistan is to be successful.” He added, “[W]hile some folks might hear that we’re departing in 2014 … we’re actually going to be here for a long time.” Asked about the number of American troops that will remain, Allen said that as part of an agreement with the Afghans, “We’re talking about forces that will provide an advisory capacity.”

That commitment echoes pledges that the White House has made. Earlier this year, Vice President Joe Biden said, “It’s Afghans who must secure their country. And it’s Afghans who must build their nation. … And we will continue to stand ready to help you in that effort after 2014.”

That dedication bumps up against the wishes of an American public increasingly skeptical that a viable and independent Afghan state can be built at a reasonable price. The cynicism is understandable. From “the war we must win” to “clear, hold, and build,” officials have been promising Americans for years that victory is right around the corner, even as their own reporting indicates that 10 years on, we appear to be going in circles.

Malou Innocent is a foreign policy analyst at the Cato Institute.