Rory Stewart

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The initial decision to strike back after the 9/11 attacks is easy to understand. History, however, will ask not why the West invaded Afghanistan, but why did it stay so long?

Why, a decade after 9/11, were there still 140,000 coalition troops on the ground? Why were there so many civilian casualties in May and June 2011 — more than in any preceding recorded month? Why had the United States been in Afghanistan for twice the length of World War II?

The conventional answer to all these questions is that Afghanistan still poses an existential threat to global security. In March 2009, presenting his strategy for a surge in troop numbers, President Obama said, “If the Afghan government falls to the Taliban ...…  Seguir leyendo »

The situation in Afghanistan is somewhat aggravating and a little surreal. We have been there now for seven years - but I don't know if the British Government knows why. Do we have a policy? Or are we simply waiting to discover what the Obama Administration wishes to do and go along with it?

This year the US is expected to spend more than $50 billion on military and civilian aid. We are talking big sums but we don't have a clear account of what we are doing.

When the US invaded in 2001, its objective was to ensure that al-Qaeda could never again build training camps in Afghanistan.…  Seguir leyendo »

It is not a stretch to say that Barack Obama faces stiffer, more vexing challenges on more fronts than any president in recent memory. In the coming weeks, the Opinion section will publish a series of Op-Ed articles by experts on the most formidable issues facing the new president. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are the subject of today’s articles.

1) The Little Battles We Must Win.

2) A War Presidency, On Two Fronts.

3) How To Leave Iraq, Intact.

4) The 'Good War' Isn't Worth Fighting.

5) Out Of Conflict, a Partnership.

6) One Surge does Not Fill All.

7) Thanks, But You Can Go Now.

Afghanistan does not matter as much as Barack Obama thinks.

Terrorism is not the key strategic threat facing the United States. America, Britain and our allies have not created a positive stable environment in the Middle East. We have no clear strategy for dealing with China. The financial crisis is a more immediate threat to United States power and to other states; environmental catastrophe is more dangerous for the world. And even from the perspective of terrorism, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are more lethal.

President-elect Obama’s emphasis on Afghanistan and his desire to send more troops and money there is misguided.…  Seguir leyendo »

Well, there’s supposed to be a presidential debate tonight in Oxford, Miss. And it’s supposed to be about foreign policy. With that in mind, the Op-Ed editors asked leaders and writers from around the world to pose questions they’d like to hear John McCain and Barack Obama answer.

How would you work with America’s allies in the Muslim world to turn around the widely held misperception there, as evidenced in opinion polls, that the global war against terrorism is actually a war against Islam?

ASIF ALI ZARDARI, the president of Pakistan

Many developing countries — mine included — have made sacrifices to carry out tough economic reforms and have sought “trade and not aid.”…  Seguir leyendo »

America and its allies are in danger of repeating the mistakes of Iraq in Afghanistan. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and even some Republicans are insisting on withdrawing from Iraq and sending more troops and resources to southern Afghanistan. The Bush administration’s gloomy National Intelligence Estimate last week on the fight against Al Qaeda will only lead others to make such calls.

But they should think again. The intervention in Afghanistan has gone far better than that in Iraq largely because the American-led coalition has limited its ambitions and kept a light footprint, leaving the Afghans to run their own affairs.

Much has been made lately of setbacks and the resilience of the Taliban.…  Seguir leyendo »