Foreign Policy Expert: Afghan War 'Not Sustainable'

Saturday, 18 Sep 2010 11:34 AM

By David A. Patten

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Top foreign policy expert William R. Polk says the United States has yet to defeat a single insurgent group in Afghanistan, adding that the war "is not sustainable very much longer" and soon will end.

A descendant of James K. Polk, America's 11th president, and a foreign-policy adviser to the Kennedy administration, Polk told Newsmax.TV that the conflict in Afghanistan has largely been an exercise in futility.

"I think we've not seen any serious progress of any kind," he said in an exclusive interview. "In fact I think the war is winding down. There are no cases of insurgencies being defeated.

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"I think the chances are that it's not sustainable very much longer. We're spending $100 billion a year in Afghanistan. That's almost exactly the amount of our national health program. We're $3 trillion or so in debt to other countries, and a lot of our towns and cities in the United Sates are in deep financial trouble, and it's a losing proposition."

The good news, he sayid, is that the United States may be able to negotiate an end to the conflict. Taliban leaders have said they won't stop fighting until the United States leaves, but Polk sees another scenario.

"I have been talking independently to people in Afghanistan the last couple of weeks that lead me to believe that if we set the date [for a U.S. troop withdrawal], that would be as good as actually withdrawing," he said. "And then we have a period of time to do what we need to begin to do to get out of the country."

Polk conceded that setting a firm date for withdrawal might just encourage the Taliban to just wait for the U.S. to leave. But he adds the Taliban "aren't stupid." They already know global support for the war effort is waning, he said.

"The Taliban of course already know that, so simply announcing the date isn't going to give them anything different than they already know," said Polk.

Polk does not anticipate that the Taliban regime will be an ongoing threat to the United States, saying they are "solely concerned with their domestic affairs."

"The Taliban really wants to run its own country its own way," Polk tells Newsmax. "And they are less concerned with us, and if we get out I think the chances are pretty good that we can ultimately develop a better relationship, as we did in Vietnam."

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