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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

Obama in the Midst of Clear-Eyed Review of Options for Afghanistan

Report 21 September 2009
As the uncertainty surrounding the flawed presidential elections demonstrates, getting Afghanistan policy right will require more than a purely military approach. Currently, a significant and important debate is taking place amongst credible military and foreign policy experts over whether a full-bore counter-insurgency strategy is the right course for America’s national security. Contrary to his predecessor, President Obama is weighing all the options on the way forward in Afghanistan and is focusing on getting the strategy right.  
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Afghanistan

A Serious Debate Emerges on Afghanistan, but Conservative Opposition Stands on Sidelines

Report 16 September 2009
Afghanistan remains critical to the security of the United States and the region. But after years of neglect by the Bush administration the situation in Afghanistan is dire; regional experts, progressives and foreign policy realists are voicing important questions about whether, how and to what end the situation can be turned around. The Obama administration is engaging skeptics, as it seeks to develop and implement a comprehensive strategy. Unfortunately, largely absent from the debate is a credible voice among the conservative opposition in Congress, now dominated by neoconservative thinking. Their calls for a massive, never-ending military commitment reflect the same misguided thinking and over-militarized approach that we saw over the last eight years. This conflict is not one that will simply be “won” by sending in more troops; instead, a positive outcome is dependent on diplomatic, political, and developmental efforts. The President must unveil realistic goals and expectations for American involvement and advance the implementation of a comprehensive strategy that is in line with America’s broader national security interests.
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Afghanistan

After Seven Years of Neglect, Afghanistan Situation Remains Perilous

Report 24 August 2009
Years of neglect from the Bush Administration caused conditions in Afghanistan to grow steadily worse and set the stage for the challenges the Obama Administration is now wrestling with. Americans and Afghans both deserve a media and public debate that asks hard questions and engages in regular, unvarnished reassessment of the mission. Both are ill-served when, instead, what we get is a constant refrain of “Obama’s war” and stories that spend more space on lazy Vietnam parallels than on developments on the ground.
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Afghanistan

Obama lauds Afghan vote, warns of more violence

News Associated Press 22 August 2009
Afghanistan

Afghanistan in Turmoil

Report 5 August 2009
The situation in Afghanistan remains dire. July was the most violent month on record and Afghans are increasingly worried about the direction their country is headed. Years of neglect from President Bush caused conditions in Afghanistan to grow steadily worse. The country now faces a series of interwoven crises. The Taliban is resurgent and threatens large swaths of the country, creating an abysmal security situation. Heading into the presidential elections, the Afghan government is widely seen as corrupt and unaccountable. Economic and development indicators also show how little the country has advanced since 2001. Afghanistan’s insurgency – and with it the Al Qaeda attackers who trained their sights on the US -- has already spread into nuclear-armed Pakistan. Allowing the insurgency to grow even further – to the point that it could topple the Afghan state – would pose a serious risk to U.S. national security.
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Afghanistan

The Challenge of Resurrecting Afghanistan

Report 20 July 2009
The situation in Afghanistan is one of the most challenging foreign policy issues confronting the Obama administration. July is already the deadliest month of the war Coalition forces, as U.S. and Coalition forces have sought to regain the initiative against the Taliban in southern Afghanistan. This offensive takes place after seven years of neglect and mismanagement by the Bush administration.
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Afghanistan

Turning Afghanistan & Pakistan Around

Report 25 June 2009
While world attention has waned in recent weeks, the Afghanistan–Pakistan region’s decline has continued. Afghanistan has suffered a spike in violence, which could intensify as the summer continues and the August Presidential elections approach.Yet the debate that is underway offers hope because it returns three factors to the scene that were absent for too much of the last eight years: comprehensive, well-resourced attention to the region; hard questions and meaningful oversight from people inside and outside the Administration; and an approach that goes beyond the application of military force to focus on the core interest of the region’s people – and of the United States.
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Afghanistan

Decisive Steps in Afghanistan-Pakistan

Report 12 May 2009
Against a backdrop of violence and civilian casualties, the last few days have witnessed strong moves by the Obama administration to complete the move to a counter-insurgency strategy – in the strategy and management of US forces in Afghanistan and in the actions of US allies in Pakistan.
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