Regarding the Dec. 6 front-page article “Plans for big civilian force in postwar Afghanistan to be cut”:

That the United States has neither the interest nor the funds for a large-footprint approach to diplomacy and development in Afghanistan need not be cause for alarm. Fewer resources do not necessarily spell disaster, and they might make such outreach more effective.

Development projects need to be led by the Afghans themselves. They should identify what needs are most pressing, and it should be their responsibility to follow through. If these programs are not locally defined and administered, they will never be sustainable. With a smaller footprint and $4 billion in aid, the United States can play an effective supporting role.

Adam Cohen, Washington

The writer is program assistant for foreign policy at the Friends Committee on National Legislation.