David Cortright of the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies proposes a more powerful strategy for Afghanistan than sending more troops, as part of an overall set of recommendations for the new administration, posted at AlterNet, (18 December 2008): "In This Era of Hope, Obama Must Emprace a Genuine Agenda of Peace":
The deployment of additional troops to Afghanistan is unlikely to bring lasting security to the region or stem the flow of recruits and support to al-Qaida. The presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan is the problem, not the solution. Political opposition to foreign military operations has grown in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the deployment of additional troops will only make matters worse, fueling further resistance and terrorist attacks.
War and military occupation are not an effective strategy against al-Qaida. The concept of a "war on terror" is misguided and counterproductive. Utilizing the rhetoric and policy of war turns the criminals who commit mass murder into warriors and presumed heroes within their communities....
When the United States bombs and invades Muslim communities, this undermines our moral standing and validates Osama bin Laden’s warped image of America waging war on Islam. Polls in Muslim countries have shown as much as 80 percent of the population agreeing with the view that American policy is directed against Islam. As long as these attitudes prevail, there will be no end of would-be recruits willing to blow themselves up to kill Americans and our allies.
The 9/11 Commission argued that the campaign against terrorism is primarily a political struggle for hearts and minds. The goal is "prevailing over the ideology that contributes to Islamic terrorism," which means separating al-Qaida from its social support base. This requires policies that rely not on military force but on political and economic measures that reduce support for violent extremism. The solution in Afghanistan is not more troops but a greater commitment to diplomacy and development. Security experts and senior military officers have called for power-sharing negotiations with local Taliban elements as a way of peeling away support from al-Qaida's globalist agenda. This approach should be combined with major investments in economic development and support for human rights. These are strategies that will be more effective, and less costly, over the long term in reducing the global terrorist danger.
Cortright's recent book, Peace: A History of Movements and Ideas (Cambridge University Press, 2008), is described by Desmond Tutu as, "A comprehensive look at the history of peace, examining the impact of social movements and the evolution of peacemaking knowledge and practice. An exploration of the essential principles and practical means of preventing war and resolving conflict without violence."