IT is hard to tell when momentum shifts in a counterinsurgency campaign, but there is increasing evidence that Afghanistan is moving in a more positive direction than many analysts think. It now seems more likely than not that the country can achieve the modest level of stability and self-reliance necessary to allow the United States to responsibly draw down its forces from 100,000 to 25,000 troops over the next four years.
The shift is most obvious on the ground. The additional 30,000 troops promised by President Obama in his speech at West Point 14 months ago are finally in place and changing the trajectory of the fight.… Seguir leyendo »
President Obama said that troop withdrawals from Afghanistan will begin in 18 months. Some of his advisers have hinted that the deadline is flexible. So, should we stick to the timeline or not? Here are three opinions from experts on the subject.
1.- Advantage: Taliban.
By Ahmed Rashid, President Obama’s decision muddied the waters as far as American credibility in Afghanistan and Pakistan is concerned, and created misapprehensions in Europe.
2.- Just Stick To It.
By Marc Lynch, there are many reasons to be skeptical of the plan’s prospects, from the corruption in Kabul to the difficulties of state-building. But a clearly communicated timeline increases the odds of success.
3.- Military Time, Civilian Time.
By Nathaniel Fick, the strategic benefits of setting a timeline may outweigh its tactical costs, if it persuades President Hamid Karzai and Pakistan to make progress stabilizing Afghanistan.
The problem with public military timelines is that if they are too short, your enemy will wait you out, and if they are too long, your enemy will drive you out. President Obama has come under fire for saying that United States forces would begin their withdrawal from Afghanistan in July 2011. Was this a good idea?
From a purely military perspective, announcing a timeline makes no sense. It gives our adversaries insight into our plans, dulling the edge of strategic ambiguity. But changing the trajectory of this war requires much more than killing and capturing Qaeda and Taliban fighters.
Progress depends on two political developments: inducing the administration of President Hamid Karzai to govern effectively, and persuading Pakistan that militant groups within its borders pose as great a threat to Islamabad as they do to Kabul.… Seguir leyendo »
“The lion of the people will turn on you,” warned Mullah Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil, a former Taliban foreign minister, as we sipped green tea at his home in Kabul a few weeks ago. He noted that while Americans had been shocked by a series of spectacular insurgent attacks over the summer, the United States-led coalition faced a far greater danger than the resurgent Taliban: growing despair among average Afghans that their government is fundamentally illegitimate.
Every aspect of sound counterinsurgency strategy revolves around bolstering the government’s legitimacy. When ordinary people lose their faith in their government, then they also lose faith in the foreigners who prop it up.… Seguir leyendo »
For the fifth anniversary of President Bush’s declaration of the end of “major combat operations” in Iraq, the Op-Ed page asked nine experts on military affairs to identify a significant challenge facing the American and Iraqi leadership today and to propose one specific step to help overcome that challenge.
1.- Right the Wrong
By Nathaniel Fick, a Marine infantry officer in Iraq and Afghanistan and a fellow at the Center for a New American Security.
With eight months left in office, President Bush has the power to shape his successor’s inheritance in Iraq. And the over-arching imperative right now, as articulated by Gen.… Seguir leyendo »
To mark this week’s fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, the Op-Ed page asked nine experts on military and foreign affairs to reflect on their attitudes in the spring of 2003 and to comment on the one aspect of the war that most surprised them or that they wished they had considered in the prewar debate.
Where Was The Plan?
Fifteen months before the 9/11 attacks, the bipartisan National Commission on Terrorism, on which I served as chairman, reported to the president and the American people that we faced a new and terrible threat: the nexus between states that supported terrorism and killers who wanted to murder Americans by the thousands and were prepared to die doing it.… Seguir leyendo »
Today and tomorrow, the United States ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, and the top American general there, David Petraeus, will appear before Congress to offer a progress report on the war. The Op-Ed page asked six experts on the Iraq conflict to come up with three questions they would pose to the two men.
Beyond the Surge
1. General Petraeus, has the surge bought us anything more enduring than fleeting tactical victories?
2. You and Adm. Michael Mullen, the incoming chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have both said the surge will end in April 2008. What options do we have then?… Seguir leyendo »