Today on Foreign Policy, Paul Wolfowitz and Michael O'Hanlon suggest a novel model by which the United States might actually measure "success" in the 10 year-old war in Afghanistan: look at Colombia. Rather than trying to foist the Iraq post-surge model on Afghanistan, they argue, America should focus on empowering the Afghan government so that it can contain the insurgency within its borders, just as Colombia has done over the past 10 years through the U.S.-backed counter-narcotics campaign known as Plan Colombia.
But a look back at the history of the program reveals that the success achieved in Colombia has been mixed, modest, and controversial. That might not be the grand outcome that the George W. Bush administration had in mind when it invaded Afghanistan in 2001. But, as Wolfowitz and O'Hanlon argue, applying the "Colombia standard" to Afghanistan may just be the most realistic goal that the United States can set at this point.
Above, a Colombian soldier walks in a field of coca plants as a plane sprays herbicide overhead.
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