National Security Network

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

Conservatives Push for Endless War in Afghanistan

Report 30 June 2010
Yesterday's Senate Armed Services Committee hearing to confirm General David Petraeus as the new commander for Afghanistan saw a stark contrast between conservatives and progressives on how best to deal with America's war effort. Conservatives sought over and over to make the hearing a referendum on the July 2011 commencement of a conditions based transition out of Afghanistan. Despite the General's explicit support for the date, conservatives tried to depict daylight between Petraeus and the Administration, even after it was clear that there was none. In contrast, Senate progressives used their oversight rule effectively, pressing the general on the recent challenges encountered by the U.S. and its international partners in Afghanistan, including lagging efforts at standing up the Afghan security forces, as well as ongoing difficulties in creating an effective and accountable Afghan government.
More »
Afghanistan

President Demonstrates Leadership on Afghanistan

Report 24 June 2010
Yesterday in the Rose Garden, President Obama displayed the leadership qualities that helped put him in office. By accepting the resignation of General Stanley McChrystal and replacing him with CENTCOM Commander General David Petraeus, the President disposed of an unnecessary, potentially compromising distraction at a time of war. He also reinforced the integrity of our time-honored tradition of  civilian rule over the military. These moves garnered immediate support from across the political spectrum.
More »
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.
More »
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.


 

More »
Afghanistan

As Karzai Visits, Focus on Strategy

Report 11 May 2010
This week, Afghan President Hamid Karzai is in the U.S. meeting with President Obama and other Administration officials, in a visit that is expected to "look to the future, not the past." The Afghan President and his cabinet will meet with their American counterparts to discuss governance, security, economics, as well as the vision for a long-term U.S.-Afghan relationship. Beyond the media attention paid to the personal relationship between Obama and Karzai, the Afghan President's visit comes after reports indicating that the U.S. is encountering mounting challenges to key aspects of its strategy for stabilizing Afghanistan. 
More »
Afghanistan

In Afghanistan and Pakistan, Amidst Delicate Progress, Serious Challenges Remain

Report 29 April 2010
When President Obama addressed the nation to announce his strategy for the war in Afghanistan, he recognized the "fundamental connection between our war effort in Afghanistan and the extremist safe havens in Pakistan."  Six months later, developments within the two countries remain closely intertwined, with major consequences for U.S. strategy in the region.  Tempting as it may be to seize on specific developments, in order to best assess U.S. regional policy, the broader trends must be examined.  In Pakistan, there are hopeful signs.  The Obama administration has revamped U.S. - Pakistan relations, moving American interests forward after years of neglect by the previous administration. However, as a new Pentagon report highlights, the situation in Afghanistan remains challenging. 
More »
Afghanistan

Gains and Mounting Challenges in Afghanistan

Report 22 April 2010

Today finds evidence that the U.S.-Pakistan operation that resulted in the capture of the Afghan Taliban's deputy commander has paid dividends.  According to Reuters, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar's interrogation, conducted by both U.S. and Pakistani officials, has resulted in intelligence, which has "been verified and has been useful to U.S. commanders and intelligence officers and analysts in both Afghanistan and Washington."

More »
Afghanistan

The President Visits Afghanistan

Report 29 March 2010
Building on a week of major domestic and foreign policy successes in both health care and arms control, where he played an active, hands-on role, President Obama made a surprise visit to Afghanistan to show that the war remains a top priority.  In particular, Obama used the occasion to press Afghan President Hamid Karzai to root out corruption in his government.  His visit came on the heels of a month of dramatic activity in Afghanistan.  Major challenges continue to face the international coalition that is working to stabilize Afghanistan.  For such challenges to be overcome and for the President's Afghanistan strategy to be a success, his Administration must not repeat the mistakes of its predecessors, who allowed their attention to drift. 
More »
Afghanistan

Making the Political Strategy in Afghanistan Work

Report 18 March 2010
Reports that the Taliban are waging a campaign of fear in Marjah aimed at undermining efforts to establish good, local governance there in the wake of the NATO military offensive, underscores the point that reaching U.S. objectives in Afghanistan will depend on more than troops.  There is widespread recognition among uniformed and civilian experts that a political campaign - encompassing such initiatives as national and sub-national efforts to improve governance, regional diplomacy to buttress support for the Afghan state, and exploration of the possibility of a negotiated end to the insurgency - must be conducted, if the American strategy is to succeed.
More »