"When this paper was undertaken in the summer of 2007, one of its purposes was to sound the alarm over Afghanistan and the critical need for comprehensive action across all sectors of society to prevent that country from becoming a failed state. The second purpose was to lay out the major areas that needed immediate attention, largely within the civil side of reconstruction and development. The third was to propose specific pilot plans for rejuvenating the agricultural sector. These plans were developed by experienced American farmers and other experts with long careers in government, agriculture, and development. The principle participants are co-authors. Now, six months later, it appears that the Bush administration and NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] are taking that warning seriously. At least three studies are underway: one at Central Command; a second at the State Department; and a third at NATO. Those studies need not take much time to finish. The issues are clear. At the strategic level, what happens in Afghanistan and beyond its borders can have even greater long-term consequences than how the struggle to bring a measure of stability and order to Iraq turns out. Failure would be disastrous for the United States and the region. Afghanistan could again become a breeding ground for insurgency and terrorism, possibly worse than before the Taliban government was overthrown in 2001. The thriving drug trade also presents major national security and domestic criminal dangers. And what happens in Iraq, Iran, and Pakistan will influence and be influenced by conditions in Afghanistan."
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