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Live from Abu Dhabi Connect the World takes you on a journey across continents, investigating the stories that are changing our world.

Live from Abu Dhabi Connect the World takes you on a journey across continents, investigating the stories that are changing our world.

What's Next in Afghanistan?

July 28th, 2009
04:01 PM ET

Operation Panther's Claw is over, and the British military is declaring it a "tactical" success.  So, what happens next? 

I've been talking to U.S. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, who says the Taliban in Helmand province have been driven back in confusion and that NATO forces now have the upper hand.  Now, Ambassador Holbrooke says, it's time to talk to the enemy. 

You can almost hear the sigh of relief in Whitehall, London.  Britain’s been calling for talks with the more "moderate elements" of the Taliban for some time.  Indeed I'm told President Hamid Karzai has had such an initiative underway since 2005, but it has lacked money and support from the U.S. and NATO.  So things on the ground may now change, but has this shift in strategy come too late? 

Poll after poll shows that support for military action in Afghanistan is dwindling by the day.  I put that to Ambassador Holbrooke, who wouldn't be pinned down on a time-frame or an exit strategy for U.S. engagement in Afghanistan, suffice to say that he agrees with U.S. officials who say they must see visible, tangible progress by the summer of next year.  When I pushed him on what he meant by that, he simply said: "You know it when you see it".  So, will the US still be on the ground in two, three or four years time?  That's for soothsayers, Holbrooke told me.  "We're not going to repeat the abandonment of Afghanistan that happened before in 2004-2005," he said. 

Should the U.S., the UK and the Karzai government be talking to the Taliban?  And if not, why not?  Who should we blame for the mistakes of the past?  Are you more or less confident that we'll see peace in Afghanistan in our lifetime?

Email me: connecttheworld@cnn.com – and we’ll use as many of your replies as possible on air.  Tune in to the show – Connect the World – at 9pm London time.

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