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Afghanistan

Afghanistan Afghanistan

Principles for an Afghanistan Strategy

Afghanistan
When the Obama Administration began a 60-day review of its Afghanistan strategy, a diverse group of progressive experts in development, counter-terrorism, regional politics and US politics came together to advise NSN on a set of principles that might guide both the Administration in building a new strategy and advocates in Congress, the media and the public in judging a proposed strategy. We begin from the premise that the situation in the United States, and the history and dynamics of the region, require a sharp differentiation between objectives that we might like to achieve and a baseline of what must be achieved for our national interests and our moral obligations – to our military, our citizens and the people of Afghanistan.
Read the full paper: The Progressive Approach: Afghanistan »

Afghanistan

The Pending US Withdrawal from Afghanistan

News Free Speech Radio News 6 June 2011
Afghanistan

Matching Our Commitment to Our Interests in Afghanistan

Report 2 June 2011

As his new national security team shifts into place, President Obama must decide how to follow through on the strategy for the Afghan war he laid out in December 2009 and begin substantial troop reductions this July.  Experts across party lines support significant changes to our current military posture: to align the U.S. commitment levels with our interests, to signal Afghans that the U.S. is not a permanent occupying force and to hand back to Afghans responsibility for their future. With al Qaeda's presence in Afghanistan severely diminished, it's time to for U.S. strategy to transition to a focus on the political solution - national and regional negotiations, governance and economic reform - and on the essentials of counterterrorism.

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Afghanistan

A New Phase in Afghanistan

Report 18 May 2011
 

This week has seen reports that the Obama administration is following the advice of experts and ramping up efforts to find a political solution that can work for all parties in Afghanistan - including continuing efforts to talk with the Taliban. Increasing diplomatic efforts to find a political solution is the best way to achieve U.S. and NATO goals in Afghanistan as Western troops begin to draw down. Finding that solution won't be easy or quick, but even an unsuccessful attempt at facilitating an agreement can provide benefits. As part of that effort, news about changes in al Qaeda leadership suggest that the Taliban's main allegiance was to Osama bin Laden himself, not al Qaeda writ large. Experts say bin Laden's death presents an opportunity to split the Taliban and al Qaeda. Finally, as the U.S. negotiates the details of a long-term agreement with the government of Afghanistan, it's essential for that agreement to send the right message to the Afghan people - the West is offering a long-term commitment to help Afghans help themselves, not permanent occupation. Any agreement must support, not undermine, a political solution to the conflict.

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Afghanistan

Afghanistan After Bin Laden

Report 3 May 2011
 

Against the backdrop of the death of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today convened a hearing "to debate the end-state in Afghanistan, assess the strategic relationship between the United States and Pakistan, and examine regional implications," according to chairman John Kerry (D-MA). Bin Laden's death may open a unique opportunity for negotiations with the Taliban - a necessary component of a political solution that goes in tandem with the military campaign and enables a significant drawdown to begin this summer. As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated yesterday, "Our message to the Taliban remains the same... you can make the choice to abandon al Qaeda and participate in a peaceful political process."

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Afghanistan

Fighting and Talking in Afghanistan

Report 20 April 2011
 

This week saw the spring fighting season begin to heat up in Afghanistan. The Taliban is expected to deploy more roadside bombs, assassinations and suicide bombers to test the staying power of NATO forces spread more broadly across the country after the winter offensive. Experts and political leaders are stressing that with the heightened fighting comes the imperative to negotiate a political solution. The week also saw small steps in the process of moving towards talks. Turkey offered to set up an office for the Afghan Taliban, which would help the process by giving the Afghan Taliban a base for unimpeded, ongoing negotiations. And Pakistan renewed ties with the Afghan government as the pair agreed to include the Pakistani military and intelligence services as part of the formal negotiation process. The time to negotiate a political solution is now, with Western troop presence - and by extension, its bargaining position - at its strongest.

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Afghanistan

Talking about Talks with the Taliban

Report 31 March 2011
 

As the U.S. and NATO continue to make military gains against the Taliban, the administration is engaged in a robust debate about the size of the planned July 2011 withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. What is clear is that no matter how many troops are withdrawn from the battlefield in July, NATO forces in Afghanistan have reached their peak numbers, meaning that Western military leverage is at its greatest level right now. With that in mind, it's essential to move beyond thinking just about troop numbers and to instead construct a strategy that is effective at shaping Afghanistan after the troop withdrawal.  Such a strategy should take political reform, economic development and regional issues into account and will require a realistic discussion that includes talking to the Taliban as part of the process.

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Afghanistan

Negotiating Peace in Afghanistan

Report 24 March 2011
 

Yesterday, a high-level task force convened by The Century Foundation released a road map for negotiating peace in Afghanistan. The report emphasized that the U.S. and NATO currently hold their greatest negotiating position right  now, as our troop strength and effectiveness has reached its height, meaning that a serious push for peace talks should begin immediately. According to the report, such efforts must move beyond simply trying to co-opt Taliban fighters, and move towards creating credible peace talks that can foster "a broad political framework to end the war."  It also recommends that U.S. and NATO diplomatic efforts going forward should immediately begin to focus on how to most effectively shape the kind of Afghanistan that the U.S. and NATO want to leave behind after 2014 - the date when responsibility for security in Afghanistan will be fully shifted to Afghans. These efforts should include plans for economic growth, ensuring women's rights, strengthening institutions and reforming the political system - all of which will serve broader American interests and goals for the region.

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Afghanistan

Focusing on Afghanistan's Future

Report 16 March 2011
 

Yesterday, General David Petraeus, U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on the state of the war there; today he gave a similar briefing for the House Armed Services Committee. In Petraeus's first testimony since he took command last summer, he testified that the troops added by President Obama have made military progress against the Taliban. Experts stress that the time is now to follow military progress with a political "surge" that focuses on governance, political reconciliation and regional negotiations to forge a durable settlement.  An effective political-military strategy should focus on what will be left behind in Afghanistan after the drawdown of the large Western troop presence in 2014.  General Petraeus also used his testimony to remind Congress that cutting civilian aid to Afghanistan and Pakistan, as some in Congress have proposed, could roll back gains and undermine our security goals there. As Gen. Petraeus said yesterday, "Inadequate resourcing of our civilian partners could jeopardize accomplishment of the overall mission."

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Afghanistan

Gates Visits Afghanistan

Report 8 March 2011

Yesterday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates made a surprise visit to Afghanistan to help mend ties with the Afghan government following the death of nine Afghan children accidentally killed by U.S. military forces. While there, Secretary Gates noted that the U.S. is "well positioned" to begin drawing down forces in July, and he clarified America's role after the 2014 date for transfer of responsibility to Afghan forces. Gates emphasized that the U.S. seeks no permanent military bases, that its post-2014 role will focus on training and assistance and that it won't feature significant numbers of U.S. troops. The defense secretary's comments underscore the importance of creating a political settlement that will ensure the protection of U.S. interests as the NATO military mission draws down. For that to happen, American and NATO military strategy must support political goals, thereby ensuring the effectiveness of the drawdown and transition phase to full Afghan responsibility. As the killing of the nine Afghan boys and the resulting anti-American backlash demonstrates, much more needs to be done to align the military and political aspects of our current strategy in Afghanistan.

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