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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

Gen. Eaton: Dick Cheney Was "Incompetent War Fighter"

Press Release Washington DC 22 October 2009
The record is clear: Dick Cheney and the Bush administration were incompetent war fighters. They ignored Afghanistan for 7 years with a crude approach to counter-insurgency warfare best illustrated by: 1. Deny it.  2.  Ignore it. 3. Bomb it.
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Afghanistan

Afghan Election Chaos Complicates American Strategy

Report 19 October 2009
The political situation in Afghanistan is in disarray after Hamid Karzai’s take of the national vote in the August presidential election was reduced to below 50 percent and U.N.-backed investigators found extensive fraud, which should trigger a run-off election. However, the Karzai government appears to have rejected this next step, creating uncertainty about the way forward. The investigation has also cast a long shadow over Karzai’s legitimacy as Afghan president and American partner. It is crucial that the Afghan legitimacy crisis be resolved for American strategy in Afghanistan to be on solid footing. While the chaos caused by the electoral fraud casts severe doubts on building up a legitimate and capable Afghan partner that is able to govern the country effectively, conservatives continue to press aggressively for a military solution. Fortunately cooler heads are speaking up, as Senator John Kerry (D-MA) said this past weekend from Afghanistan that “It would be entirely irresponsible for the president of the United States to commit more troops to this country when we don't even have an election finished.”
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Afghanistan

Fraudulent Afghan Elections Demonstrate Need to Reassess Strategy

Report 16 October 2009
Reports this morning that election oversight officials in Afghanistan put President Hamid Karzai’s vote total below 50 percent make it increasingly likely that a runoff election between him and his nearest challenger Abdullah Abdullah will take place. This revelation not only confirms that extensive fraud occurred on Karzai’s behalf, but severely undercuts the legitimacy of the election process and potentially the future government.
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Afghanistan

Conservatives Offer Tired, One-Size-Fits-All Approach to Afghanistan

Report 13 October 2009
Arguments for an Iraq-style surge in Afghanistan that were launched this weekend by conservative politicians, notably Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) are missing one crucial element – a correct understanding of what actually happened in Iraq. On the airwaves they advocated a one-size fits-all approach to resolving the conflict, predictably arguing for an Iraq-style surge in Afghanistan. However, they fail to comprehend what actually happened in Iraq. Experts attest that the crucial factor in dampening the violence in Iraq were the deals – and not the temporary troop increase - that U.S. forces cut with Sunni insurgents, creating the so-called Anbar Awakening.
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Afghanistan

Stalemate

News The New Republic 13 October 2009
Afghanistan

Obama Deliberates on Afghanistan while Conservatives Politicize

Report 7 October 2009
President Obama met yesterday with congressional leaders from both parties to discuss the war in Afghanistan. The President pushed aside any notions about an all-or-nothing approach and explained that in the midst of the uncertainty stemming from the Afghan election, escalating violence, and a struggling Afghan government, his focus is not on rushing to a decision but on getting the strategy right. Yet while the President is listening to all sides – in a bipartisan manner - engaged in this legitimate debate, conservatives are raising the temperature through harsh attacks focused on scoring political points rather than constructive solutions.
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Afghanistan

Getting Afghanistan Strategy Right

Report 29 September 2009
As pressure mounts on the Obama administration to explain its way forward in Afghanistan, the Administration is doing its homework in developing an effective strategy. Unlike previous administrations, the current one is pursuing, as Secretary Gates said yesterday, “the first real strategy we have had for Afghanistan since the early 1980s.” This is not a tidy process, as the uncertainty surrounding the flawed presidential elections last month has demonstrated. But one thing is for certain – getting Afghanistan policy right will require more than a purely military approach. Getting Afghanistan policy right is about much more than a magic bullet number of troops. President Obama explained “we are not going to put the cart before the horse and just think that sending more troops will automatically make America safe.” Hearing all sides in the vibrant political-military debate that is taking place amongst experts will allow the Administration to avoid the “group-think” that has plagued past administrations, especially on Afghanistan. This clear-eyed approach to managing the war stands in stark contrast to the self-assured ideological approach that characterized President Bush’s war-time decision making, which failed to take real facts – even the unwelcome ones – into account. That failed approach has had dire consequences for our national security, and the important debate taking place now is both refreshing and significant. Hypocritically, conservatives have started attacking the President for not rushing to increase troops. Instead, of playing political games with the war, this Administration is focused on getting the strategy right.
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Afghanistan

Cheney vs. Obama, another round

News USA Today 22 September 2009