For Afghan Success, Look to Colombia

Countries face similar troubles—and Colombians know how to fix them
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 5, 2009 11:11 AM CDT
For Afghan Success, Look to Colombia
A US soldier stands guard as members of Afghan Public Protection Force leave a graduation ceremony in Jalrez district of Wardak province, west of Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, March 31, 2009.   (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)

When President Obama reviewed US strategy in Afghanistan, the lessons of Iraq were key. But a better comparison might be Colombia, where parallels abound—and where the government has handled insurgents with a fair bit of success, writes Scott Wilson in the Washington Post. Both Afghanistan and Colombia have faced “a homegrown insurgency inflamed by a pesky neighbor, millions in drug profits and a weak central government.”

What can Obama learn from Colombia? For Wilson, a former Colombia correspondent, a US troop surge may be less helpful than increasing training for Colombian forces. Destroying the drug trade should take a backseat to boosting state institutions, such as schools and health clinics. Trying to quash insurgents’ border strongholds has little effect. And the last lesson “is a stark one: It will take time. The Colombian effort has taken nearly a decade and counting,” Wilson writes.
(More Obama administration stories.)

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