The good news: President Obama believes military action alone won’t bring peace to Afghanistan. “We’re going to have to use diplomacy; we’re going to have to use development,” he said in a recent television interview. He added that his administration is undertaking a comprehensive review of U.S. policy there.

The bad news: The president plans to send 17,000 more soldiers to Afghanistan, bringing the total to 55,000, along with 32,000 NATO troops.

But sending more U.S. troops is like pouring gasoline on a raging fire. Three decades ago Washington laid the foundations of Al Qaeda and the Taliban when it built up Afghanistan’s most backward, violent elements, destroying a progressive government in its rush to counter Soviet influence in this strategic region. The civil war that followed pitted extremist against extremist and turned to ashes the faint green shoots of democracy, women’s rights, and economic and social development.

NATO countries are increasingly recognizing that war is not the answer to helping the Afghan people solve their complex problems. These countries are resisting U.S. requests to increase their deployments.

The death toll is escalating among both U.S. troops and Afghan civilians. The cost to U.S. taxpayers is sure to soar past the current $100 million a day.

The Afghan people’s rejection of foreign troops as a means to heal their country’s deep wounds is illustrated in recent polls that show 90 percent oppose the Taliban but less than half see the U.S. in a positive light.

“Bringing in another foreign army is not going to help,” Ibrahim Khan, a 40-year-old truck driver from eastern Afghanistan, told the Washington Post. “They always come here for their own interests and they always lose. Better to let everyone sit down with the elders and find a way to peace.”

So what is the path to peace?

Prompt withdrawal of U.S. and NATO forces, and ending air strikes on Afghan and Pakistani targets, would be a good start. The UN could help with temporary security if needed.

The diplomatic and development strands of the administration’s approach offer many positive possibilities, including fostering talks among all forces in the conflict, and developing aid projects like sustainable agriculture to help Afghans at the grass roots.

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