The Battle Over Peacekeeping

As the fighting in Afghanistan drags on, American troops risk being dragged into a messy civil war

Remember "mission creep"? the Pentagon does. In 1993 what started as a humanitarian operation to feed starving Somalis turned into an exercise in "nation building" and ended with the death of 18 American soldiers on the streets of Mogadishu. Nobody in the U.S. military wants to repeat the experience.

Trouble is, given the current conditions in Afghanistan, mission creep may be hard to avoid. U.S. special forces, allied with "friendly" Afghan tribes and militias, are roaming the country, looking for remnants of the Taliban and senior members of al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden's terror network. Defense Department officials acknowledge that, given the...

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