As President Obama is set to discuss the future of US counterterrorism policy around the world, he should also provide a framework for a swift end to the US war in Afghanistan. It is our belief US troops should not stay one day longer or shed one more drop of blood, and US taxpayers should not spend one more penny to keep troops in Afghanistan past 2014.

It is pure folly and wholly counterproductive for the US to keep fighting in Afghanistan, paying the highest price in life and treasure, for one more day, let alone until a specific calendar date is reached. The current US strategy, which lacks critical political and economic transition elements, will neither accomplish US political objectives, nor provide security for the people of Afghanistan. As violence is currently on the rise, one can reasonably wonder what has been gained from years of remarkable expense and sacrifice.

The Obama administration should end this war and double down on efforts to achieve broad and inclusive political solutions. There are several reasons why this track has a better chance for success.

First, there is no military solution to Afghan political problems, many of which don't even originate in Afghanistan. In fact, efforts to pacify the Afghan insurgency by force have only backfired. The security situation in Afghanistan today is worse than it was before the surge in 2009. A failure to achieve a negotiated political settlement with regional stakeholders will almost certainly mean a fourth decade of war in Afghanistan – fomenting the same conditions which led to the rise of al Qaida in that country.

For 12 years, the US has given military solutions every chance to work. It is clear these efforts have failed. For example, the Afghan NGO Safety Office, a highly respected group that tracks insurgent attacks in Afghanistan, recently noted a 47% increase in attacks by armed opposition groups from the first quarter of 2012 to the first quarter of 2013. Inclusive political negotiations are extremely difficult in the best of conditions. As violence grows, any efforts are very unlikely to bear fruit without first securing a ceasefire between international and Afghan forces and the insurgency.

Second, no regional agreement can be reached without Pakistan. It is true that one of the biggest challenges to stability in Afghanistan comes from outside its borders. The Fata, target of most of the 368 US drones strikes in Pakistan, has become a heavily militarized insurgent haven. The insurgency causes great instability, but is not the only undercurrent that matters regarding political violence in the Fata, in other areas of Pakistan or in Afghanistan.

Tension between Pakistan and India, two growing and nuclear armed states, has largely driven Pakistani involvement in Afghanistan. A political peace process that seeks to end the India-Pakistan cold war – a decade long endeavor at least – is as important as fully inclusive peace talks in Afghanistan. India and Pakistan are both best served by a stable Afghanistan free of foreign meddling, including their own. Gestures of good faith between India and Pakistan, such as prisoner exchanges or high-level, public diplomatic exchanges could offer a good start. Any agreement will not be achieved through military force. However, there is scarcely a whisper of such a process in Washington.

Lastly, soon there will be no more time or money to fight the war. As the US military attempts to set parameters for long-term military engagement, Congress is ever less inclined to support operations. Congressional support has been in decline since 2009, when the House first voted on an Afghanistan exit strategy amendment, offered by Representatives Jim McGovern and Walter Jones. In November 2012, the Senate voted 62-33 to endorse the president's plan for withdrawal and express the sense that no US combat troops should remain in Afghanistan after 2014. Declining congressional support for an overwhelmingly unpopular war is likely to continue. That the military focused transition from US to Afghan control, to end next year, is on a razor's edge does not help.

The US will not fight a war in Afghanistan forever, so why not cut to the chase? After over a decade of war in Afghanistan, the United States does owe as smooth as possible a transition to Afghans. The emphasis on the military aspects of the transition has greatly reduced the chances for true political and economic progress to take hold. Both of these are needed if peace and stability, both in Afghanistan and the region, are to become a reality.

The Obama administration must now accept risk of a different kind in order to achieve true success, but by using non-military means.

Courtesy Guardian.