National Security Network

Obama

Obama

Afghanistan

Conservatives’ Surging Politicization on Afghanistan and Pakistan

Report 3 December 2009
Yesterday, the Obama administration took its strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan to Congress. In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Secretary of State Clinton, Secretary of Defense Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Mullen began the task of explaining the Administration’s strategy to America’s elected officials. For the sake of the strategy’s integrity, and in order to make certain that the Administration remains focused on its core objectives, it is vital that Congress ask the tough questions, and maintain vigilant oversight.
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Afghanistan

Not Troops, but a Strategy

Report 1 December 2009
After months of deliberations, the President has reportedly issued the orders that will deploy 34,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan over the course of the next year. But, as progressives have been arguing for months, and top Administration officials have recognized, no strategy for Afghanistan will succeed with a focus on troop numbers alone. The Administration must back these deployments with a strategy that lays out clear objectives in accordance with U.S. interests, spelling out the essential duties of U.S. military and civilian personnel, and how those duties fit within the broader effort to secure the main U.S. strategic objectives.
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Afghanistan

Memo to the Community: The President’s Afghanistan and Pakistan Strategy: Setting the Strategic Parameters

Report 30 November 2009
Tuesday night, President Obama will lay out his Administration’s new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Media attention continues to focus on troop numbers and tactical debate over elements of counter-insurgency strategy. The president’s political opponents, meanwhile, will seek to portray the strategy as dead on arrival if it does not mention “victory” enough times or if it sets out benchmarks toward an eventual end state to American involvement
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Afghanistan

Getting the Afghanistan Strategy Right In the Face of Continual Far Right Bombast

Report 20 November 2009
In a surprise visit to Kabul this week, Secretary of State Clinton attended Hamid Karzai’s Presidential inauguration. During the visit, she urged the Afghan government to both reform itself and to stamp out corruption. In particular, she stressed that Karzai had a limited window to “make a new compact with the people of Afghanistan.” Clinton’s message underscored a basic point that progressives have been making for months – that without a political and diplomatic strategy that urges Afghans to step up, no plan for Afghanistan can succeed.
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Afghanistan

On Afghanistan and Pakistan, while Administration Acts, Conservatives Rest on Reckless Criticism

Report 17 November 2009
Even as deliberations over the Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy continue, and President Obama traveled in Asia, notable steps in the Afghanistan – Pakistan region set the stage for productive US efforts, with senior officials encouraging their partner governments to step up. This weekend, Secretary of State Clinton used strong language to pressure the Karzai government to act against corruption, a tough stance followed by the Karzai administration’s launch yesterday of a new anti-corruption initiative. National Security Advisor Jones visited Pakistan to convey support for the government’s recent offensive against militants, along with a letter from President Obama urging continued resolve. Steep challenges of governance, security, and managing delicate national pride remain in both countries. This week’s events show the Administration squarely focused on a core part of any successful strategy: motivating the Kabul and Islamabad governments to take the lead.
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Terrorism & National Security

Bringing Terrorists to Justice

Report 4 November 2009
Since 9/11, American courts have convicted and imprisoned nearly 200 terrorists. In the same time period, the military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay has convicted only three detainees, while undermining the international respect and partnership we need to fight terrorism around the world. By closing Guantanamo and bringing terror suspects held there to America for prosecution, the Obama administration is attempting to succeed where the Bush administration largely failed: bring prosecutable detainees held at Guantanamo to justice. America’s justice system has a long history of successfully holding and trying terrorist suspects. From the mastermind of the first World Trade Center attack to Zacarias Moussaoui—the “20th Hijacker”—to the shoe-bomber Richard Reid, our prison and court systems have a long track record of keeping our communities safe while bringing dangerous terrorists to justice. The Obama administration is applying the same record of success to detainees held at Guantanamo. Today more than 120 national security and political leaders, from retired generals and former prosecutors to GOP strategist Grover Norquist, released a letter supporting this approach – because it will not only bring terrorists to justice, but also make America safer.
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Afghanistan

While Afghanistan’s Political Situation Remains Uncertain, Conservatives Maintain Their Failed Approach

Report 2 November 2009
The decision by Abdullah Abdullah to drop out of Afghanistan’s run-off election has finally created a level of clarity on who will lead the beleaguered nation. Yet despite the return of Hamid Karzai as President, the political situation remains far from either clear or conducive to short-term stability. This latest development is far from ideal, especially as it is taking place while we recalibrate our Afghanistan strategy. As President Obama continues to develop a strategy for Afghanistan, this latest development is yet another indication that the most essential ingredient for fostering stability there — the political environment — remains unstable and a major impediment to progress. As one top Afghanistan observer said, the Afghan political situation is now a “fiasco.” This means that while a central tenet of a successful counter-insurgency strategy is the inclusion of a viable political partner, it is essential that President Obama’s strategic review adequately reflect the now evident political chaos enveloping Afghanistan. It also underlines the primacy of the political over the military, both on the ground in Afghanistan and in Washington’s strategic planning.
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President Bush

Past Bush Administration Failures in Iraq and Afghanistan Still Having Repercussions Today

Report 26 October 2009
Iraq just experienced its worst bombing in two years and today was the deadliest day in Afghanistan in four years. While conservatives want to pretend that the history of America’s involvement in these wars started only when President Obama was sworn-in to office, the reality is that the new Administration is dealing with the fallout of eight years of incompetent war time management by the past Administration. Contrary to statements by his critics, President Obama has moved aggressively to clean up previous messes made in both theaters. In Iraq, he set a timetable for the extrication of American forces, pushed Iraqis to take control of their own future, and has been intensely engaged in resolving political disputes. In Afghanistan, the President has increased our resources and manpower while focusing on developing a strategy for a war that had been without one.
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Energy

Weather May Vary, But Need for Climate Action Remains as Copenhagen Approaches

Report 23 October 2009
National security experts, retired military officials, and many prominent conservatives are in agreement that the challenge of climate change poses a threat to our way of life, global order, and our security. After eight years of denial and dithering by President Bush, the Obama administration has broad public support for its efforts to revive international climate negotiations. The Obama administration is seeking to make progress on climate change at the Copenhagen talks in December and is also working to increase coordination and collaboration with China on a range of strategic and practical environmental issues. However, for Copenhagen to serve as the launching point for developing a comprehensive and implementable climate change treaty, the United States must lead by example.
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Iran

Pressure Builds on Iran as International Talks Continue

Report 20 October 2009
Talks are taking place in Vienna over Iran’s nuclear program amongst the United States, our European allies, and the Iranians. The Obama administration has pursued an aggressive diplomatic strategy towards Iran, rooted in international legitimacy. As a result, these talks have seen an increase in pressure on the Iranians while the international nonproliferation regime has also been strengthened. This is a welcome contrast to the Bush years, when tough sounds about Iran were made while the Iranians built up their nuclear program without delay. Because of the administration’s approach, the Iranian regime is under a level of international pressure that they have never felt before.
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