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UN in Afghanistan is No Quick Fix: There is a growing sense of urgency in Washington and other capitals about resolving the military operation in Afghanistan and finding a political solution. These imperatives are driven by the imminent arrival of the harsh Afghan winter and the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, the probable collapse of the Taliban regime and pressure on the U.S.-led coalition that will grow more intense the longer the military campaign lasts. But simply handing off all or parts of the country to the United Nations once the bombing stops, as administration officials have debated in recent days, would be a terrible idea. It is reassuring to know that President George W. Bush now feels that the United Nations has a legitimate role in so-called nation-building: picking up the pieces and getting a country back on its feet after the implosion of its government, typically as a result of war. But the ability of the United Nations to do those things rests on certain conditions being met -- conditions that the United Nations itself lacks the capacity to produce.

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