National Security Network

Afghanistan

Afghanistan

Diplomacy

Evaluating the Obama Doctrine

News The American Prospect 27 July 2010
Afghanistan

The Kabul Conference: Turning Aspiration Into Action

Report 20 July 2010

 

Delegates from 70 countries and organizations convened in Kabul today for a conference on the future of Afghanistan. The conference laid out an ambitious vision for transitioning full security responsibility to Afghan security forces by 2014, building capacity within the Afghan government, and a framework for re-integration and reconciliation with elements of the insurgency. But for meaningful progress to take place, the agenda must be translated into action on the ground.

 

Domestic unease with developments in Afghanistan is growing, as evidenced by declining enthusiasm for the war in recent polls, and mounting concern in Congress.  Domestic uncertainty, and the difficulty of translating aspirations into action makes it all the more important for the administration to define the conditions necessary for bringing the Afghan war to a successful close. This will require tough choices, which differentiate between what could be achieved in Afghanistan, and what must be achieved for the sake of the core U.S. objective: "to disrupt and dismantle, defeat and destroy al Qaeda and its extremist allies."

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Military

Is General Petraeus too big to fail?

News Politico 30 June 2010
Military

Gen. McChrystal’s Rolling Stone Controversy

Report 22 June 2010

A Rolling Stone profile of NATO-ISAF Commander General Stanley McChrystal, which contained derisive critiques of senior Obama administration officials by both the general and his aides, has touched off a furious controversy. McChrystal, after delivering a written apology, has been summoned to appear in person before the President to explain his comments.  Regardless of the outcome of that meeting, it is clear from McChrystal's own written statement that the comments in the piece reflected "poor judgment and should never have happened."  Additionally, up to this point, McChrystal has offered unequivocal support for the Administration's Afghanistan strategy and the process that informed its development. Specifically, in December, he stated that, "The Afghanistan-Pakistan review led by the President has provided me with a clear military mission and the resources to accomplish our task."  While some may be tempted to seize on this incident as evidence that the Obama Administration is not in sync with the military, statements from McChrystal, General Petraeus, Admiral Mullen, and Secretary Gates all confirm the Pentagon's full support for the administration's strategy in Afghanistan and the White House's leadership in its creation.

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Afghanistan

An Honest Look at Afghanistan is an Obligation for All

Report 16 June 2010
The depth of the challenge the United States faces in Afghanistan is becoming starkly clear. Negative developments in Marjah, grumblings from the Karzai government, the postponement of a major operation in Kandahar, and disappointing results in security forces training and the ‘civilian surge' must be serious points of concern for the Administration.  A raft of critical media reports, and the flurry of questions showered on government officials appearing before the Senate this week illustrate the concern dramatically.
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Afghanistan

Amidst Tragedy in Kabul, U.S. Must Hone in on Core Objectives

Report 18 May 2010

Twin developments today bring into focus the challenges the U.S. faces in South Asia:  a devastating car bomb in Kabul killed five U.S. troops and more than a dozen Afghan civilians, even as top U.S. officials travel to Pakistan to build pressure on countering terrorist activity in the region.   As the deaths in Kabul took the American death toll in Afghanistan past 1,000, it is essential that the U.S. remain concentrated on the core task of fighting extremists who seek to harm Americans in the region and at home.


 

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Pakistan

Building a Strategic Relationship with Pakistan

Report 24 March 2010
Today marks the commencement of the first ever, ministerial-level strategic dialogue between the United States and Pakistan.  The dialogue - which will unfold over the next two days and will consist of broad-based discussions covering bilateral topics ranging from Afghanistan and terrorism, to development and economic assistance, to energy and water - confirms that the Obama administration is moving the relationship from a state of drift, as characterized by the previous Bush administration's failed policy there, to a state of clear headed action.  The affirmation of the importance that the U.S. places on its relationship with Pakistan, as symbolized by the strategic dialogue, follows more than a year of constructive engagement that is beginning to pay dividends.  However, potential pitfalls looming on the horizon, as well as recent history suggest that trumpeting such accomplishments at this point is premature.  In particular, the Administration would be wise to remember that Pakistan's interests do not always align with those of the U.S.
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Diplomacy

Health Care Pushes Other Issues to Margins

News New York Times 19 March 2010
Terrorism & National Security

Romney and Cheney's 'Sorry' Approach to National Security

Report 4 March 2010
This week Mitt Romney and Liz Cheney took their movement's lead in politicizing America's national security.  Romney pulled a complete flip-flop on Afghanistan, from fully supporting the president's policy in the morning to wholeheartedly criticizing it in the evening.  His newly-released book, in opposition to the views of America's top military leader, Admiral Michael Mullen, suggests that the military should add to its duties the lead role in American diplomacy.  In addition, Liz Cheney's group Keep America Safe released a troubling video this week suggesting that attorneys who represented Guantanamo Bay detainees are complicit in terrorism, a move that a Bush administration official called "offensive" and "beyond a cheap shot."  These developments are symptoms of the two larger problems for conservatives: none of their leaders take national security seriously and they continue to attack the national security apparatus of the United States, exploiting national security for political gain.
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Pakistan

India and Pakistan Relations - The Need for Quiet Diplomacy

Report 26 February 2010
Yesterday, India and Pakistan reopened talks, following over a year of elevated tensions in the wake of the 2008 Mumbai attacks. Both Secretary of State Clinton and Secretary of Defense Gates have welcomed the resumption of diplomacy.  This reflects the Obama administration's commitment to a comprehensive strategy for the region. But ultimately, as Secretary Clinton has acknowledged, the problems between the two countries must be "solved by the two countries themselves." 
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