Published June 28, 2011
The Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul is where the Karzai government was borne, it's where the Afghan diaspora assembled from all parts of the world to form a new government after the Taliban government was toppled in late 2001.
It's one of the most heavily fortified public buildings in Kabul, and where journalists, diplomats, foreign businessmen, and Afghanistan's elites stay and eat and meet.
There is really nothing like it in Kabul.
For years it was THE hotel in town.
Now has come terrible news from Afghanistan that at least five suicide bombers have attacked the hotel. For the Taliban to penetrate the hotel's defenses with multiple suicide bombers, and detonate their explosives in the inner sanctum of the elites sends a powerful signal that the war is not over; it's just entered a new chapter.
In some ways, this attack is not unexpected. General Petraeus predicted the Taliban would move to soft, civilian targets with suicide bombers, since the , military targets were not longer within their reach. When I was in Kabul two months ago a suicide bomber gained access to the Ministry of Defense, across the street from where I was staying, carrying a valid ID and wearing an Afghan army officer's uniform. No amount of brilliant soldiering on our part can prevent that sort of attack. Only the Afghanis can police themselves.
Washington is focussed this week on the Afghan War and whether to take American troops out, when to do it, and how many to withdraw. But this debate really misses the point. The Afghan war will not be won if we keep more troops there longer. But it will be lost unless if we find a political solution that unites the Afghan people behind their government, a diplomatic solution that shuts down the Taliban safe havens just across the border, and an international solution that guarantees them both.
We may win battles on the ground in Afghanistan, and the stronger and longer we stay the more battles we will win. But those victories will mean little if the Karzai government is not able to hold the country together once we leave, or if the Taliban keeps fighting by regrouping across the border in Pakistan. They will always be able to destroy in a few minutes what it has taken years to create.
We cannot fight our way out of Afghanistan. But we might be able to negotiate our way out. That's why it is time for the administration to use some Chicago style politics on Kabul and Islamabad, rather than on Capitol Hill.
Kathleen Troia "K.T." McFarland is a Fox News National Security Analyst and host of FoxNews.com's DefCon 3. She is a Distinguished Adviser to the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and served in national security posts in the Nixon, Ford and Reagan administrations. She wrote Secretary of Defense Weinberger’s November 1984 "Principles of War Speech" which laid out the Weinberger Doctrine. Be sure to watch "K.T." every Wednesday at 2 p.m. ET on FoxNews.com's "DefCon3"-- already one of the Web's most watched national security programs.