Nato should recognise that its decade of fighting in Afghanistan has failed to deliver very much, and that the billions spent on military operations would have been better utilised in civilian reconstruction. The Nato summit in Chicago should have moved away from planning its military retreat, and focused on a passionate plea for the Nato members to take the July meeting in Tokyo of the International Conference on Afghanistan more seriously. More than 40 nations are due to attend the Tokyo conference, which will focus on how to prioritise economic and other aid to Afghanistan. This is where the billions should be spent. The impact of better infrastructure, education and government services, and enabling more economic opportunities will be much more important in the long term than the short-term effects of tens of thousands of foreign troops roaming the country to little avail. In addition, Obama has failed to headline how long US troops will stay in Afghanistan. It is true that Nato’s mandate will end in 2014, and that the Afghan army has agreed to take a frontline role from 2013. But Obama has agreed a bilateral deal with the self-serving Afghan President Hamid Karzai, under which American troops will continue to serve in Afghanistan for another decade up to 2024.
–Gulf News editorial