Few things are certain about the complex insurgencies raging in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but one thing seems clear: A military surge and escalation of the war will make matters worse, not better. The presence of large-scale foreign forces in Afghanistan is the problem, not the solution. Local opposition to U.S.-led military operations is growing, and adding more troops will likely fuel further resistance and increase support for al Qaeda-inspired extremism.
U.S. military attacks in the region validate Osama bin Laden’s warped portrayal of America waging war on Islam. More than 80 percent of the population in Pakistan believes that American policy is directed against Islam, according to recent polls. Equal percentages consider the United States more of a threat than al Qaeda or the Taliban. As long as these attitudes prevail, there will be no end of would-be recruits willing to blow themselves up to kill Americans and their allies.
Over the decades, Washington has pumped tens of billions of dollars into the region in an elusive search for military solutions. The Pakistani military and intelligence forces we fund have actively supported the Taliban. Some of the Afghan warlords we armed in the 1980s are now leaders of the insurgency fighting U.S. and NATO forces. Jalaluddin Haqqani, whom former member of Congress Charlie Wilson described as “goodness personified,” currently commands one of the most ruthless Taliban factions.