What if there was a way to win in Afghanistan without putting thousands more American lives at risk? The question begs itself now more than ever with Adm. Michael Mullen's call for 2,000 to 4,000 more military units in Afghanistan. The solution? If you're Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria or Slate's Fred Kaplan it's simple—bribe your way to victory. In separate columns, the two foreign policy heavyweights make the case for less boots on the ground and more dealmaking:
The focus must shift from nation building to dealmaking. The central problem in Afghanistan is that the Pashtuns, who make up 45 percent of the country and almost 100 percent of the Taliban, do not feel empowered. We need to start talking to them, whether they are nominally Taliban or not. Buying, renting or bribing Pashtun tribes should become the centerpiece of America's stabilization strategy, as it was Britain's when it ruled Afghanistan.
Heavy bribery. It does tend to work, at least in the short run. In the spring and summer of 2003, during the early days of the Iraq occupation, this was how Gen. David Petraus, then commander of the Army's 101st Airborne Division, pacified much of the northern Iraq, including Mosul—by passing around lots of cash taken from Saddam Hussein's bountiful stash. (When the money ran out, Congress failed to appropriate more, at least not as an uncontrollable commanders' discretionary fund. Whether by coincidence or not, Mosul fell apart soon after.) Similarly, during the surge and the Sunni Awakening in Anbar province, many former insurgents joined the "Sons of Iraq," and thus the coalition cause, thanks in part to the inducement of a regular paycheck.