LIVE STREAM at 12:00 PM TODAY: A New Way Forward for Afghanistan

-

DSC_0115.JPG
For much of the last year, a group of policy experts, scholars and practitioners have been meeting to discuss the situation in Afghanistan, with the hope of of charting a “New Way Forward,” for America’s longest war.
TWN Publisher Steve Clemons and a select group of others have crafted a report (AVAILABLE HERE) of findings and recommendations for U.S. policy in Afghanistan, which will be released in an event TODAY at the New America Foundation, from 12:00 PM – 2:00 pm.
The event will livestream here at TWN, with Steve Clemons moderating an all-star expert discussion featuring the following:
PAUL PILLAR
Director of Graduate Studies, Center for Peace & Security Studies, Georgetown University
Former National Intelligence Officer for the Near East and South Asia

MATTHEW HOH

Former Afghanistan-based official with Department of State and US Marine Corps
Director, Afghanistan Study Group
STEVE COLL
President, New America Foundation
Author, Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan and bin Laden from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001
Contributing Editor, The New Yorker

BRIAN KATULIS

Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress
CHARLES KUPCHAN
Whitney Shepardson Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations
Professor of International Affairs, Georgetown University
Author, How Enemies Become Friends
DARCY BURNER
Director, American Progressive Caucus Policy Foundation
ROBERT PAPE
Professor of Political Science, University of Chicago
Director, Chicago Project on Suicide Terrorism
Author, Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism
Co-author of the forthcoming, Cutting the Fuse: The Explosion of Global Suicide Terrorism and How to Stop It
session chair
STEVE CLEMONS
Director, American Strategy Program, New America Foundation
Publisher, The Washington Note
If you are in Washington and would like to attend the launch event, please RSVP here.
— Andrew Lebovich

Comments

68 comments on “LIVE STREAM at 12:00 PM TODAY: A New Way Forward for Afghanistan

  1. John Waring says:

    I have finished reading the Afghan Study Report. It is robust common sense.

    Reply

  2. Arun says:

    A second Indian POV, presented in full:
    A second Indian POV, reproduced in full:
    How not to exit Afghanistan
    Aligning India with long-standing Pakhtoon aspirations may be a potentially potent lever
    Shyam Saran / New Delhi September 15, 2010, 0:54 IST
    At the recently concluded annual conference of the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS) in Geneva (September 10-12, 2010), Henry Kissinger had a telling comment on the

    Reply

  3. Arun says:

    John,
    Not so naive. Careless – the Afghan situation could have been settled by a determined effort in 2002-2003, instead of bungling into Iraq.
    http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB325/index.htm

    Reply

  4. John Waring says:

    Arun,
    I think we niave Americans are caught in an intra Afghan tribal war and a proxy war between India and Pakistan.
    We are banging our heads against the proverbial brick wall, trying to ameliorate the impossible.
    We Americans need to get the hell out, and bequeath Afghanistan to its neighbors, who, because of propinquity, must perforce deal with those people. Good luck.

    Reply

  5. Arun says:

    Don Bacon,
    Indian influence in Afghanistan relative Pakistan is virtually inevitable. For instance, Karzai studied in India; and many future Afghan students will likely study in India – it is relatively inexpensive, and the quality is better than that available in Pakistan. Similarly, the market for Afghan goods is deeper and broader in India than Pakistan.
    The Pashtun situation in Pakistan and Afghanistan will continue to be like that of the Kurds in Turkey and Iraq – the possible national aspirations of the Pashtuns will be destabilizing. There is no cure for that either without a massive redrawing of borders.
    At this point, the US should do what is good for itself and for Afghanistan, for which it bears a responsibility, and not consider Pakistani paranoia too seriously.

    Reply

  6. Don Bacon says:

    “The Indian strategic community thinks that the US must stay in Afghanistan for as long as it takes to wear out the Taliban and ensure stability in that deeply troubled country.”
    recent news report:
    India, seizing on Afghanistan

    Reply

  7. Arun says:

    An Indian POV:
    THE TIMES OF INDIA
    Exit Is A Smarter Strategy
    KANTI BAJPAI, Sep 13, 2010, 12.00am IST
    The Indian strategic community thinks that the US must stay in Afghanistan for as long as it takes to wear out the Taliban and ensure stability in that deeply troubled country. It would probably be better for the US to withdraw as quickly as possible and turn its attention to its internal problems, its role in East Asia, and much larger global challenges.
    Ten years on, the US should consider pulling out of Afghanistan. While it cannot lose against the Taliban and al-Qaeda, it also cannot win outright. If so, Islamic extremism around the world will prosper. Extremists in Pakistan will celebrate the US quagmire in Afghanistan and the radicalisation of Pakistani opinion. The US’s presence may be a bulwark against radicalisation, but it is an equal bet that the longer the US stays, the more radical Pakistan will become. When the US finally pulls out, as it must, Pakistan might collapse into civil war if not extremism. Better then for the US to go when the moderates still have a chance.
    Taliban rule in Afghanistan may be more palatable this time round. Mullah Omar is likely to be far more circumspect about extremism and terrorism. The US must, of course, continue to monitor, disrupt, and destroy the workings of al-Qaeda and to bolster homeland defence. Washington can use its air power, particularly the drones, to target Afghan extremists and al-Qaeda if the Taliban continues to support terrorism. The threat of US intervention from the air might well deter the Taliban, which in its new incarnation seems keen to rebuild Afghanistan economically rather than reinstall a pitiless Islamic regime.
    For the US, this is a more affordable, efficient way of combating terror than fighting in distant lands. A US pullout from Afghanistan will not be a strategic defeat. It may mark the high point of Islamic extremism which might well recede with the US’s departure from Iraq and Afghanistan just as global communism peaked after the US’s exit from Vietnam.
    The problem with the present US course is that the workings of the US political and economic system, its role in East Asia and issues of the global commons are being neglected. The US political system is now in a logjam, fatally divided between right extremism and a moderate centrism. The economy is heavily in debt (due in part to the costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan), is growing very slowly, and could be heading towards double-dip recession. No one in the US knows whether the country should spend its way out of trouble or curb the role of the state and stimulate market forces.
    Washington has been obsessed with Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Iraq might yet turn out to be moderately stable and governable. The future of Afghanistan and Pakistan is much darker. Yet what is the worst that could happen a Taliban-led Afghanistan and a radical Pakistan? This could be a formidable combination, but just as likely is that Afghan/Pashtun nationalism and Pakistani/Punjabi nationalism will clash, leaving the two countries in unending contention rather than collusion. Nobody has mastered Afghanistan in the past, and the idea that Pakistan will do so in the years to come is a historical wager that the Pakistani army is likely to lose.
    With so much invested in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Americans are not paying enough attention to East Asia and the global commons. China is steadily on the rise. This is not altogether bad: a better balance of power is stabilising for the international system. But the key is balance. In Asia, the balance will be hard to preserve given China’s enormous size and potential. The US could wake up very soon to find that Beijing is the hegemon of Asia. Before Washington reacts, the Chinese, who are driving deep into Africa, will also be ensconced in Latin America.
    Finally, the US is ignoring the global commons. Global trade and finance, climate change, resource scarcities, and epidemics and disease jeopardise life on the planet far more insidiously and dangerously than Islamic terrorism. The US is the world’s most indispensable power, to use Madeleine Albright’s boast, in terms of global collective action. It must find its way back to these grand strategic challenges and not lose the woods for the trees.
    A US pullout will not be a cataclysm for India. For one thing, the US will no longer be so helpless before Pakistan, and its military aid might reduce significantly. Further, New Delhi has dealt with Af-Pak before, from 1989 to 2001. It could team up with Iran, Russia and perhaps even Pakistan to play a positive role. Islamabad might cooperate to ensure New Delhi does not destabilise Afghanistan, exploit Afghan-Pakistan differences in the future (which are almost inevitable), and draw even closer to the US.
    A rampant America, after the Cold War, was not always a progressive force, but at least it provided global leadership. Today, the world faces the possibility of an America riven politically, battered economically and shaken militarily, its forces rattled by the experience of asymmetric warfare. An unconfident America, with a waning sense of power and purpose, fighting an unwinnable war in Afghanistan, is not in India’s or the world’s interest.
    The writer is professor of international politics, Jawaharlal Nehru University.

    Reply

  8. Don Bacon says:

    Plan O for Out
    “A New Way Forward” includes a complicated and time-consuming process involving the Afghan parliament, District councils, a national council and broadening the composition of the Afghan Army. The plan de-emphasizes Karzai’s conceived “peace jirga” in favor of an effort by tribal and village leaders. These are all efforts devised by Americans to be accomplished by Afghans at the local level, an approach which unacceptably undermines the Afghanistan central government.
    A new Afghanistan policy is certainly needed. The current NATO effort in Afghanistan, primarily military, has failed after nine years of effort and a tripling of foreign military and civilian personnel. Unarmed government employees can no longer travel safely in 30 percent of the country

    Reply

  9. frenchconnection says:

    Joshua Foust (registan.net) eviscerates the Afghanistan Study Group report :
    “I finally finished reviewing the Afghanistan Study Group report. It wasn

    Reply

  10. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Give Obama credit for standing up for what’s right”
    1)Wet your finger.
    2)Stick it up in the air.
    3)Determine which side cools with the wind.
    4)Head in that direction.

    Reply

  11. JohnH says:

    Give Obama credit for standing up for what’s right. And contrast this with Netanyahu! He can’t even muster the courage to criticize a rabbi who condones killing Gentiles.
    http://www.alternet.org/story/148016/how_to_kill_goyim_and_influence_people_israeli_rabbis_defend_books_shocking_religious_defense_of_killing_nonjews
    We should all be worried about Israel’s nukes getting into the wrong hands, like Netanyahu and Lieberman’s.

    Reply

  12. nadine says:

    I have a news flash for Hugh, the CEOs who supported Obama have buyer’s remorse too.
    There is a thought-provoking article on Obama by Dinesh D’Souza in Forbes. D’Souza’s thesis is what makes Obama tick is not liberalism or socialism, but anti-colonialism; that anti-colonialism is the true dream he received from his father.
    It’s an interesting idea, and does explain why Obama cannot keep himself from addressing any issues that touch Muslims in America, which from a political point of view, he must know that he should keep quiet about. There is no advantage for a politician to leap into the 30% side of a 30/70 issue when he doesn’t need to. It’s even more strikingly self-destructive than Obama’s flattery and bowing to the Islamic world.
    How Obama Thinks
    http://www.forbes.com/forbes/2010/0927/politics-socialism-capitalism-private-enterprises-obama-business-problem.html

    Reply

  13. Don Bacon says:

    President Obama is currently holding a press conference, with live blogging on another site. Here’s a response by “Hugh”:
    “Obama is saying nothing new on anything. That

    Reply

  14. Cee says:

    The “minister” is a psy-ops created nut if you ask me.
    Let’s not ask other questions to rightly outrage the public
    http://theintelhub.com/2010/09/09/corporate-news-runs-911-truth-ae-911-truth-conference-presents-explosive-evidence/
    Corporate News Runs 9/11 Truth, AE 911Truth Conference Presents Explosive Evidence
    September 9, 2010
    Alex Thomas
    The Intel Hub
    Today, Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth presented key evidence at The National Press Club, evidence that indicated, without a shadow of doubt, that the official story is a complete lie.
    In what can be described as a miracle, multiple mainstream or semi mainstream news agencies have reported the event, using PR Newswire as their source. These agencies include Yahoo, Forbes, The Sun Herald, and BreitBart.
    AE911Truth

    Reply

  15. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Oh Wiggie, stop pouting, darn it. We don’t mind guessing about where your lies end and the truth begins.
    I’ll even be the first to make it easier on you, by remembering not to ask you how the weather is in Florida.

    Reply

  16. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Gee, I think I’m going to hide under my bed today. It terrifies me that this wackjob preacher is gonna torch a bunch of Muslim instruction manuals and incite those heathen brown savages in the middle eastern desert regions.
    We have crossed a line, by God. We shoulda just stuck to illegal invasions, carpet bombings, mass murder, illegal detentions, renditions, and torture. Have we no decency?

    Reply

  17. Cee says:

    “No one touched that massacre of surrendered Taliban who were allowed to perish in truck convoys”
    I’m still haunted by the face of the man in the background in the photo of the American Taliban (John Walker Lind) being arrested.
    Don’t forget that our new ally Dostrum the drug runner (find some Michael Ruppert articles on Afghanistan and drugs) was known for killing people.

    Reply

  18. MarkL says:

    POA,
    There’s no reason to blame Hillary for Obama’s epic failure of leadership; however, I have to say that her tenure as SoS leaves little doubt that she shouldn’t be President. The only question is whether she or Obama would be worse, and that’s moot, because she won’t run in 2012, and she won’t win the nomination if she does.
    Honestly, I don’t follow I/P news much anymore. I don’t see any good faith actors, and no one is advocating for my view, which is that the US should stop its aid to Israel.
    What really turned me against Hillary are her recent remarks on Mexico, in which she said that the drug war in Mexico is reaching the level of insurgency (insurrection?).
    Excuse me, but if it weren’t for our criminal drug foreign policy, Mexico would have not have this problem.
    Drug legalization/decriminalization is the only answer; if not that step, then Mexico should simply refuse to act against “drug lords”, daring the US to invade (Unfortunately, I could see Obama authorizing drone strikes in Mexico).
    Hillary has no successes as SoS, only a record of bellicose and unhelpful statements.

    Reply

  19. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Hellooooo?????
    Hellooooooooooooo??????
    Its OK, Wiggie. It doesn’t matter that you’ve been lying to us all this time. You can still come out and play.

    Reply

  20. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Hey Don, you forgot..
    “Clinton criticizes Goldstone Report”.
    “Seriously flawed”, the witch said. Didn’t tell us how, or why, though. Just “seriously flawed”.
    Uuuuhm, anyone wanna outline for us what bacon, exactly, Clinton has brought home as SOS????
    I had an insider tell me, (someone that should know), that they don’t comment on or critique Clinton because they don’t have time to “watch their back”. It pretty much substantiated my take on Clinton. She’s got waaaaay too much power in Washington, and she ain’t afraid to step on the neck of anyone that crosses her. My bet??? She’s actively engaged behind the scenes to fuck Obama out of a second term. (Not that he needs help.) If she thinks she can slither into the Oval Office, she’ll cut his balls off in an instant. (Yeah, well, that is if he HAD balls. Truth is, you’d have a better chance finding a pair on Hillary than you would on Obama)
    And I’d love to be a fly on the wall when she’s talking one on one with Netanyahu. Somehow I doubt she’s wiping the arrogant smirk off his face.

    Reply

  21. Don Bacon says:

    It’s a gal thing with Taylor Marsh.
    I particularly like this response to her diary:
    “Zzzzzzzz. How

    Reply

  22. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Wanna see something bizzarre? Check out this slobbering bit of pathetic adoration written by Taylor Marsh over at her website…..
    http://www.taylormarsh.com/2010/09/08/obamas-kissinger-as-baker-was-to-bush-41/
    WTF???? Is she talking about the same Hillary that has delivered NOTHING as far as standing up to Netanyahu, and who has make a farce out of “engaging” the Iranians, (“We’ll talk, but it won’t do any good, and we will need to impose stringent sanctions. Fuck you very much.”)
    Thats “diplomacy”??? And never mind how this damned embarrassment read the Israeli script, straight outta the AIPAC website, on Iran.
    And you gotta love how Hillary ignores it when these piece of shit fascists in Israel shoot American citizens in the head, doncha? Oh, but she’s got a crocodile tear or two for Neda.
    Amazing that Marsh penned this sacharin bit of drool considering that she seems to “get” what an empty suited rubber spined political Gumbi this ass Obama is. She gets it on Obama, but not on Clinton??? Shit, Clinton is as bad, or worse, than Obama is. Left to her druthers, Netanyahu would be serving little Palestinian kiddie toes and fingers as hors de ouvres at the next AIPAC convention.

    Reply

  23. Don Bacon says:

    HC at CFR: “And I thank you for referencing what has been the most difficult balancing act of my time as secretary of State, pulling off my daughter’s wedding, which I kept telling people, as I traveled around the world to all of the hot spots, was much more stressful than anything else on my plate.”
    A two million dollar wedding is not just a piece of cake and throwing a garter. It’s stressful and I feel her pain.

    Reply

  24. kathleen says:

    Sand What she did to the Corrie family by opposing this legislation and for the Israeli government is criminal. Immoral.
    Ros Lehtinen led the way blocking the Goldstone Report, has led the way on legislation to isolate Hamas and punish Palestinians. Ros Lehtinen has led the way on more aggressive, inflammatory legislation against Iran mostly based on false claims.
    She seems to be working for the Israeli government not for U.S. National Security.
    She should be required sign up under the FARA (foreign agents registration Act) as an agent of influence.

    Reply

  25. Sand says:

    “…Hillary Clinton recently gave a speech to the CFR with the old meme that American leadership will save the world, but the facts are somewhat different…”
    I saw her presentation over @ Laura Rozen’s blog:
    http://www.politico.com/blogs/laurarozen/0910/HRC__CFR.html?showall
    She looks dreadful … dead tired and totally disinterested. I wonder if she truly believes what’s she saying or this is what a ‘paid soul’ is made to say?

    Reply

  26. Sand says:

    I didn’t realize there was a strong Jewish connection with ‘Ros-Lehtinen’ — they really do have the foreign relations committee[s] stitched up!
    — “…Like Berman Ros-Lehtinen is of Jewish decent. Ros-Lehtinen

    Reply

  27. Kathleen says:

    Over at Mondoweiss
    “In the immediate wake of Corrie

    Reply

  28. Kathleen says:

    Important over at Mondoweiss
    There Are No Civilians In Wartime

    Reply

  29. jonst says:

    what difference does it make, Clinton or Obama? Both triangulation Dems. Both proponents of unfair trade, American exceptionalism, Israeli Settlements Plus, consideration of military attacks on Iran, and unlimited support, when and where it really matters, for the gangsters that ‘manage’ our economy.

    Reply

  30. DonS says:

    Don Bacon, I’m not so sure about the dynamics of a Hillary challenge in ’12. It looks to much like stabbing in the back. But, then again, a Clinton is a Clinton.
    As for O-man, does a day pass when he doesn’t do the wrong thing? At least on average? Never misses an opportunity to pander to the right only to have the right attack him harder. I take him at face value when he says he was never on the left; his moves sure seem to validate that, though as an attack line, it seems to work for repubs, teabaggers and assorted nutcases. The whole opposition to Iraq may have been a convenient anomaly.
    The Republican could nominate a gerbil in ’12, and probably will given the state of that party, and still have an odds on chance of winning due to multiple backlash and continuing economic misery. One would expect the economy to be trending up by then under normal conditions, but Obama seems to miss every chance for bold moves to address it. Except to preserve the financial stake off the rich.
    One could argue that no President could survive a twin crisis of presiding over a tanking economy and having multiple wars. But Obama is making it look inevitable. And, though he has proved himself an easy mark for the military escalation crowd, it’s done him little good. In normal times, again, the opposition would be calling for an end to war. Now, despite the seeming endless war, their hardly nuanced cry will be for more war.

    Reply

  31. Don Bacon says:

    Politicians don’t care about the long term, among other things.

    Reply

  32. JohnH says:

    The only ray of hope for the I/P talks is if Israel has finally had an epiphany and realized that they really are at a dead end with the current strategy. Admittedly, this possibility is a long shot, but they are not in as commanding a position as their arrogant behavior would suggest.
    The Zionist narrative has run out of positive spin. Now the best they can do is defensive–constantly citing their right to self defense. They lost the moral high ground a long time ago.
    At the same time, there are plenty of negatives. The only realistic outcomes are continued and deepening apartheid, expulsion, or genocide. Of these, apartheid is the least bad from a PR perspective, but a long term headache.
    Also, if Israel feels obliged to demonstrate its “deterrence,” by launching another pogrom, its neighbors can return the favor. Even Hamas says it now has a rocket that can reach Tel Aviv. Bid good-bye to Israel’s best and brightest.
    The good old days are gone. Israel can no longer position itself as a “light unto humanity” nor can they stride across the neighborhood with impunity like jack boot thugs.
    So maybe, just maybe, Bibi and Abu Mazen will keep talking for as long as it takes for Bibi to wiggle free of his predicament. Expect Bibi to demand the moon, because the conventional wisdom says that he holds all the trump cards. But given Israel’s dead end–if in fact they realize their predicament–Abu Mazen would do well to meet Bibi’s bluff and hold out for a better deal than anyone now imagines.
    High stakes stuff here. But at this point Abu Mazen and the Palestinians don’t have a whole lot to lose. Israel has already taken everything, but the Palestinians’ ongoing presence represents a long term nightmare for their oppressor, one with significant costs.
    And Obama? He’s just there to help Bibi get the best deal he can.

    Reply

  33. Don Bacon says:

    Sorry, Paul, but Obama’s supposed wants, hopes and promises carry no weight anymore. The Dems are going down in November without much of a whimper from a formerly popular president who has not even taken the trouble to help his party by laying out a post-election agenda. He has given Dems and Independents no reason to vote for Dem candidates, and when Dems lose the Congress Obama will have trouble getting the band to strike up Hail To The Chief.
    Hillary Clinton recently gave a speech to the CFR with the old meme that American leadership will save the world, but the facts are somewhat different. Power is more diffused now, and it’s some of America’s least friendly countries that have gained power. It is Iran, Israel, Turkey, China, Pakistan and Russia that now determine matters in US hotspots — Iraq, Palestine and Afghanistan. The US military has been proven to be ineffective.
    Specifically, Israel (Netanyahu) is queeny-the-lead-dog in I/P, controlling Jerusalem and settlement expansion and leaving Abbas a Hobson’s choice between accepting whatever Israel proclaims or leaving the talks. For all its talk of leadership, these are talks that the US is holding at arms length for that very reason — the US is not about to force Israel to do anything, or to delay its agenda. The US is “helping and “facilitating’ the talks, and won’t even attend many of them.
    There’ll be a vacuum (Hoover?) in Washington and I’ll look for Hillary Clinton to fill it. She’s got that Mona Lisa smile. Clinton v. Petraeus in 2012. Sorry, O-man. You had your chance. Exit stage left.

    Reply

  34. JohnH says:

    “Wiggie kinda dissappeared.” Nadine, too.
    Probably awaiting instructions from Tel Aviv.

    Reply

  35. JohnH says:

    Well, Paul, I wish I could share your optimism.
    However, let’s not forget about the recent experience when Olmert was in serious talks with Syria, mediated by Turkey. Erdogan thought they were getting close to a deal when Olmert decided to conduct his pogrom against Gaza and sabotage any deal. He didn’t even bother to give Erdogan a heads up.
    Moral of the story: just because Israel is busy talking, doesn’t mean they’re too preoccupied to plan and execute something dastardly, like attacking Iran. Obama would be stupid not to realize this, since it happened just as he was taking office.
    Also, Obama may wish to get out of Afghanistan, but the positive is that the brass and the contractors are not getting restless in the barracks. They have something to do, something that will keep them occupied for years, given the futility of the situation. And until they’ve proven that they can succeed there, why should Obama give them anything else to do?
    So, Obama may think it’s better having them busy doing something, rather than constantly agitating to do something, foreign or domestic, to use their new toys, advance their careers, and enrich their contractors.
    Frankly, I see little relationship among Iraq, Afghanistan and Israel. Iraq is about controlling Persian Gulf oil. Afghanistan is about controlling a geopolitical pivot point–the land bridge between Central Asia and South Asia. And Israel is just about domestic politics.

    Reply

  36. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Gosh, Wiggie kinda dissappeared since that jock strap fell out of her/his/it’s laundry. Poor thing, he/she/it must be terribly embarrassed.

    Reply

  37. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “No one touched that massacre of surrendered Taliban who were allowed to perish in truck convoys”
    And, of course, there were the Afgani prisoners that asphyxiated in sweltering heat, locked in metal storage containers.
    Or the Iraqis that used radioactive drums looted from Tuwaitha, (that we failed to secure or protect) to store water that was bathed in, used for laundry, cooked with, and drank.
    There is too much to list about stories that have “disappeared”, along with the myriad of United States’ governmental criminals that have escaped accountability for their actions in these two fields of battle.

    Reply

  38. Paul Norheim says:

    Afghanistan, Iran, and Israel/Palestine… these issues are
    discussed non stop here at TWN and elsewhere – usually as
    separate issues.
    To get a fresh perspective, I would suggest that we make an
    attempt to connect the dots between these issues – by seeing the
    direct talks between Israel and Abbas as the central tactical
    element (in the eyes of the Obama administration) connecting
    the other ones: US policies vis a vis Iran, and the war in
    Afghanistan.
    Yes, make no mistake: these are talks “between Israel and
    Abbas”; not between Israel and the Palestinians. But maybe this
    matters less than we think, in the larger picture.
    Secondly: I believe that Obama wants to find a way out of
    Afghanistan. I doubt that he still needs to be convinced that a
    continuation is a waste of lives and resources.
    Anyhow, here is my take on the “direct talks” between Israel and
    Abbas, and how they are related to the war in Afghanistan, and
    the conflict with Iran:
    1) Israel unilaterally attacking Iran in the coming months is
    clearly a nightmare scenario for the Obama administration.
    America runs the risk of being dragged into an unpredictable war
    with a huge risk of escalation, while being bogged down both in
    Iraq and Afghanistan.
    2) Obama may have some hope of getting somewhere with the
    Israeli-Palestinian direct talks – i.e. some sort of two state
    solution. Who knows? But his main objective may not be direct
    results, but making sure that Abbas and Israel are sitting around
    a table, occupied with “direct talks”. And the more THEY get
    bogged down in arguing about petty details, the better. As long
    as they are talking, the risk that Israel will attack Iran is
    significantly reduced.
    3) Just like the “direct talks” is an attempt to buy time, so are the
    sanctions against Iran. If time shows that sanctions don’t work,
    and Israel becomes impatient, Obama must make sure that
    Netanyahu is occupied with the direct talks until the US has got
    more room for maneuvering .
    4) Obama has promised to start withdrawing troops from
    Afghanistan next summer. That’s also when the direct talks are
    supposed to end. If he can distract the Israelis away from
    attacking Iran by insisting on direct talks with Abbas for one year
    (the longer these talks last, regardless of a direct outcome, the
    better) – then he’ll buy some valuable time to get more troops
    out of Iraq and Afghanistan. This will give America more room
    for maneuvering if all this, one way or another, goes towards a
    clash with Iran.
    So yes, Obama may or may not be naive with regard to the
    outcome of the direct talks. Perhaps he has resigned and is
    hoping for the best possible outcome: a Bantustan arrangement
    for the Palestinians. Perhaps he even doesn’t believe in ANY
    positive outcome of these talks.
    But if he finds a way to keep these talks going (and there are
    literally thousands of petty, but tricky details designed to keep
    Netanyahu and Abbas distracted and arguing back and forth for
    decades), this may help him achieve a more urgent objective:
    avoiding a military confrontation with Iran due to Israeli
    impatience while the US army is bogged down on two other
    fronts.
    If this is correct, his and Hillary Clinton’s main challenge is to
    keep the talk going on, and on, and on…until his hands are less
    tied. And Mitchell is, due to his background in the Irish-British
    conflict, the right man for a job requiring patience and an
    appetite for perpetual talks.

    Reply

  39. DonS says:

    This “New Way Forward” report, mild as it is, and filled with nods to the GWOT, still will have difficulty gaining traction since it explicitly undercuts the ‘perpetual war’,’clash of civilizations’ crowd. It frames the conflict as primarily a civil war. It, and several panelists identified cessation of hostilities by coalition forces as the single most needed path forward, from the macro economic considerations all the way to addressing womens’ rights. Specifically it endorses the view that the current approach and non-policy of the administration works on the side of extremism and resistance in Afghanistan.
    The panelists emphasized how counter productive, unsustainable, outsized and inappropriate is the US footprint in Afghanistan.
    One particularly telling data point is the increased presence of US troops, particularly in Pashtun areas, and escalation of suicide attacks.
    The emphasis of any possible definable ‘progress’ in Afghanistan is hinged, according to all, on selective political and economic reform and emphasis, not out of the ‘barrel of a gun’.
    Throwing money and materiale and manpower at this particular problem — it’s not a war in the sense of an absence of an American strategic interest — maybe the recipe de jour for the MI complex, but it is obscenely out of step with the needs of an America facing major crises internally. And, per the panel, it’s not working; it’s backfiring.

    Reply

  40. Don Bacon says:

    According to Dept. of Labor (BLS) reports:
    There is no data for 2009* but from 2000 to 2008 the whole federal government grew by over 90,000 full-time employees. This doesn’t count the myriad of private contractors that are now doing much of the federal government’s work, particularly in intelligence. Obviously foreign outsourcing hasn’t hit government employees like it has corporate employees.
    * BLS: “Data for the 2009 Federal Government are not available at this time.”
    I smell a problem. If the federal government in September doesn’t know how many employees it had last December then matters are even worse than we imagined. Maybe they all quit (who would notice). Perhaps we could get a national intelligence estimate on the government?

    Reply

  41. JohnH says:

    But Don, how can you say such things? The unemployment rate would rise 0.5% if all the redundant intelligence “assets” were laid off! And think of all the sweetheart corporate deals that would evaporate without bloated intelligence “services.” Erik Prince would never have the opportunity to become a billionaire, like his daddy.
    Your heart must be made of stone!

    Reply

  42. Don Bacon says:

    The US has like only a thousand intelligence agencies and half a million people working in them — how can they possibly work on Afghanistan when they’re totally occupied monitoring Americans, the real enemy?

    Reply

  43. Kathleen says:

    Go Ray McGovern bringing up why there have been no National intelligence estimates last year or this year on Afghanistan.
    Pillar dismisses McGovern’s question by saying that would not be the correct instrument to determine what is going on in Afghanistan.
    Then Pillar gives absolutely no example of a viable way to determine what is going on in Afghanistan.
    Pillar was very dismissive of McGovern’s question.
    Why is Pillar clearly down on National Intelligence Estimates. Hmm. That was odd

    Reply

  44. Kathleen says:

    is Heroin use going up in American forces serving in Afghanistan

    Reply

  45. Kathleen says:

    my questions
    what happens to surrendered Taliban now?
    Why is it that the U.s. media never reported about the deaths (slaughter) of surrendered Taliban back in 2001?
    And how did this tragedy effect the possibility of more Taliban being willing to work with occupying forces?
    And how much does our military pay families when they shoot/kill innocent people in Afghanistan via drones, night time raids etc?
    How many innocent people in Afghanistan have U.S. forces killed?

    Reply

  46. Walton Cook says:

    Afghan Visions
    If you are the average native of Afghanistan–your life has a
    very messy ending. In fact, your life is out of control. You are
    staring downward, and into the dark abyss of death. You will not
    live to age 45. You have little bodily ease or pleasure. You are
    sick, malnourished, hungry, uneducated

    Reply

  47. Kathleen says:

    What are we spending in Afghanistan a week? Is 2 billion a week correct? Heard that on Joe Scarborough this morning. Arianna Huffington, Governor Rendell etc discussing this issue this morning
    Sure took the U.S. a long long time to attempt to bring the Taliban to the table. Those slaughtered Taliban members in 2001 may have slowed down any other Taliban members willingness to negotiate or surrendered to occupying forces. Uh just a little
    Marcy “clear telling of what is going on in Afghanistan”
    “the american public is shielded” I would say!
    Hell our military our government our media has not even counted the dead, injured and displace in Iraq. And the American people seem to like it that way. Frightening
    What did our military learn from Vietnam. Don’t show the American people the pictures, the video clips etc

    Reply

  48. kathleen says:

    too bad they do not have any of the Fulbright scholars who are studying here in the states from Afghanistan on that panel.
    Does anyone think that the Obama administration consults with these Fulbright scholars studying here in the states from Afghanistan?

    Reply

  49. Kathleen says:

    Wonder if they will go near international drug cartel operations in Afghanistan? Increase in heroin use in Afghanistan due to more anxiety over ongoing war etc?

    Reply

  50. Kathleen says:

    go to u stream for a better connection

    Reply

  51. Kathleen says:

    Keep wondering about how any Taliban member that surrenders now how we treat them. Will never forget when Amy Goodman was the only media outlet here in the states that aired the Irish documentary “Afghan Massacre; The Convoy of Death” on her program back in late 2001. No one touched that massacre of surrendered Taliban who were allowed to perish in truck convoys. Just swept under the rug by the U.S. military and our media. MSNBC etc sure never reported about that massacre.
    How are any Taliban members who surrendered treated now? Sure would make one hesitate to surrender when Americans allowed or participated in this slaughter and then silently swept it under the rug. “moving forward, next chapter” etc

    Reply

  52. Kathleen says:

    Where is Prof Cole? And why is Darcy Burner there?

    Reply

  53. Paul Norheim says:

    I have sound and (frozen) image of speaker.

    Reply

  54. Collin Agee says:

    Technical Issues. Have still image of speaker, but no streaming video; no sound.

    Reply

  55. Don Bacon says:

    Also no Afghans or Pakistanis on the panel. I guess the US father knows best.
    Pepe Escobar on Asia Times:
    “As much as Washington may entertain the illusion that it’s in command, it’s actually Hamid Karzai, the wily Afghan president, who is playing an attacking game in this latest installment of the New Great Game in Eurasia. And, as usual, there’s never a mention anywhere of the key Pipelineistan game.
    and then there’s Pakistan, the US “partner” which probably supports the Taliban which is killing US troops, according to General McChrystal’s assessment a year ago.
    Pepe again:
    “For Islamabad it’s still – and will always be – about “strategic depth”, the doctrine that rules Afghanistan as a privileged Pakistani-controlled backyard (that’s exactly what it was between 1992, at the start of the intra-mujahideen wars, till the end of the Taliban “government” in 2001).
    “Pakistani army chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kiani – a darling of the Pentagon – has been granted a three-year extension to his mandate. Karzai took no time to duly note the obvious: Kiani will continue to pull all stops to be the top dog in Kabul. So he must be accommodated.”
    http://tinyurl.com/2b46qwt
    And then there’s that preacher in Florida who intends to morph Patriot Day into Burn A Koran Day, which might change everything.

    Reply

  56. Paul Norheim says:

    Not only for those on dial-up.
    Earlier today, I got one of these nasty lottery ticket windows on
    top of the TWN site every time I clicked on this blog – and no
    matter what I did, it didn’t go away.

    Reply

  57. PissedOffAmerican says:

    I realize Steve has to make a buck, but all this advertising is strangling the site for those of us on dial-up.

    Reply

  58. jonst says:

    Thank you Steve…..on another, if you are up to it, could give us a brief update on the health of your dog’s health?

    Reply

  59. PissedOffAmerican says:

    I’d love to see one of these deep thinkers define “forward” without reaching into the grab-bag of bullshit that provides the rationale for us to be there.

    Reply

  60. Steve Clemons says:

    jonst,
    I don’t know what they will say today — but I think that Paul Pillar
    reflects that view — and Stephen Walt, who is speaking at an event
    I am organizing tonight, has that view essentially. Others in the
    group felt that way — but not everyone, and the report doesn’t
    reflect any person’s view entirely…

    Reply

  61. jonst says:

    Steve, not trying to offer an editorial comment on the panel….just curious, is there anyone on the panel who simply proposes we get out, as fast as possible, and in any event, within 6 months, out of Afghanistan? Or, within a year?

    Reply

  62. drew says:

    A secular war on terror is distinct from an invasion plan, and
    soldiers don’t recommend 30 year wars.
    The decapitation of the Taliban government was one of the more
    extraordinary tactical achievements in the history of war, as the
    CIA, 100 noncoms, and several brief cases filled with $100 bills
    wiped out the government in a matter of weeks.
    What the neocons apparently did not ask themselves with
    enough rigor, was the Petraeus question during the weeks-long
    invasion and defeat of Saddam’s Iraq: “Tell me how this ends?”
    The neocons, optimistic in regard to human nature, sincerely
    believed that humanity, set free, will elevate itself in character
    and self-organize in democratic fashion. (One reason they think
    this is that it has happened in places like the Philippines and S.
    Korea — and South Vietnam, until we abandoned them and our
    treaty obligations.)
    The current situation in Afghanistan doesn’t seem like a
    quagmire to me. The problem is that the USA has no desire to
    acquire colonies, and there is little evidence now that the
    Afghans will self-organize into anything other than a loose
    confederation of rural peoples, bonded to a totalitarian, narco-
    state core. In other words, somebody needs to rule the place,
    and it won’t be us. Once the USA proves it can run a post office
    effectively, I’ll be fine with the whole nationbuilding thing on the
    other side of the world with a people that is 70% illiterate. But
    unless you see quixotic nation-building as synonymous with
    “quagmire”, it’s not a quagmire. The taliban and al qaeda do not
    challenge the US military; the challenge is the vacuum that is the
    national political culture. There is none.

    Reply

  63. Paul Norheim says:

    Drew,
    I don’t have a direct answer to that interesting question
    (and you didn’t ask me…).
    However, since the war in Afghanistan was seen as part of
    the GWOT, perhaps they did? According to Woodward (in
    one of his three books about the Bush admin. – can’t
    remember which right now), the Pentagon assumed that
    the GWOT may take twenty, thirty years, or more. I think
    several officials, Cheney included, said the same (a
    generation or more…). So you could say that we are 1/3
    into the Afghanistan war…
    On the other hand, there was an atmosphere of unfounded
    optimism with regard to “nation building” at the same time
    – especially related to the invasion of Iraq, but also to
    Afghanistan. And a lot of hubris as to what the almighty
    US military power could achieve around the world.
    Most importantly however, referring to Afghanistan, I
    guess Rumsfeld’s experimental implementation of his
    concept of a modernized, lighter, more mobile force may
    have distracted the attention from such crucial questions
    as well. Rumsfeld + neocon nation building + focus
    diverted to Iraq = Afghan quagmire.
    And as to the 30 years of GWOT, initially this probably
    included attacks on Syria, Iran, Sudan and a handful of
    other nations who “harbored terrorists” as well – until
    trouble started in Iraq.

    Reply

  64. drew says:

    SC: “…for what is soon to be America’s longest war.”
    If Afghanistan is not already our longest war, which other war was
    longer? The only way Vietnam was longer is if you datestamp the
    injection of a few advisers as the onset. And of course, technically,
    the Korean war is still going. But I cannot otherwise identify a
    longer war.
    Anyway, I think it’s important to ask a question unrelated to
    Afghanistan per se, and perhaps you will: What are we doing
    fighting a 10-, 11-, 12-year war? Did anyone lay out in their
    reductive powerpoint case for the initial invasion “We anticipate
    accelerating optempo and increased troop counts in year 10 of the
    conflict”? Probably not, eh?

    Reply

  65. Don Bacon says:

    I’ve already said that I was impressed with Matthew Hoh, and now it’s Darcy Burner. I not only am taken with her name and the fact she’s from Carnation, Washington, but more importantly with her efforts as a congressional candidate to fight for the right things, including getting out of Iraq.
    But I do think that, despite the political thrust to stay in, we do need to get out of Afghanistan and not try to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

    Reply

Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *