"All We Need Is Time."
Wrong. This is the same argument that the war's supporters have used for nearly a decade now to justify more troops and rationalize continued involvement in Afghanistan, but the outlook is worsening. Some believe that given time, the current strategy can change the course of the war and defeat the Taliban. But just because President Barack Obama's administration has "surged" U.S. troop strength to over 100,000 and Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, is aggressively targeting militant safe havens in Pakistan does not mean that the fundamentals of this war have changed. It's now a nine-year war -- not nine one-year wars. There is no reset button in Afghanistan, and the coalition lost its political capital with the Afghans long ago.
With conditions deteriorating on the ground and the Taliban gaining strength across the country, coalition forces will be in an even worse position next year than they are now. The situation around the major cities of Jalalabad and Kabul is seriously deteriorating, and the state structure in the north is disappearing. In the southern city of Kandahar, a sustained U.S.-led effort has proved unable to dislodge the Taliban from their traditional stronghold; the Taliban have also launched a systematic campaign targeting anyone ready to work with the coalition, killing hundreds since last spring. Instead of being able to start pulling out troops next summer, as Obama has pledged, the United States will be forced to send additional troops just to hold ground. And the longer Washington waits, the harder it will be to negotiate. As the Taliban solidify their power, they will be less and less likely to talk. It's time to negotiate -- this is the only way forward. The Taliban's Quetta Shura, an insurgent organization led by former Taliban leader Mullah Omar, has repeatedly made contacts with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, but real negotiations must involve the United States and the Pakistani military.