The success of the initial U.S.-led campaign in Afghanistan was deployed pre-2003 to bulwark speculative pitches of the feasibility of a successful post-invasion endeavor in Iraq. Five years later, U.S. leverage inside Iraq is considerably marginalized and the Taliban and their allies have made an impressive comeback in Afghanistan while U.S.-Afghan relations are on the fray.
Afghans are disillusioned by the failure of real progress in securing and rebuilding their country, again a narco-state as half of the country's GDP is drug-related. The Bush administration promised a Marshall Plan for Afghanistan it never delivered. Compared to other recent post-conflict countries, Afghanistan receives minimal assistance. This despite the fact that Afghanistan remains the home to much of al Qaeda and has served as the largest terrorist haven in the world.
Like McDonald's dropped Kobe and Pepsi a Madonna, Jackson, and Ludacriss, some are now suggesting it's time to deconflict the GWOT matrix and save what can be saved of an Afghanistan critically foundering in the shadow of an embarrassing and debilitating controversy called Iraq.
Last week, January 30 2008, the Center for the Study of the Presidency (CSP) released the Afghanistan Study Group Report. [48-page pdf] The goal of the Afghanistan Study Group, co-chaired by Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering and General James L. Jones, is to provide policy makers with key recommendations that will lead to a re-vitalization and re-doubling of the United States and international community commitment and effort in Afghanistan. The study group’s findings and proposals will be shared with U.S. government officials, Members of Congress, key officials in NATO and at the United Nations, and representatives of the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as other interested governments and parties.
What follows are excerpts from the report deemed to be of some relevance to the thematic obsessions of this shack: (Note: Readers might also want to read two related reports brought to our attention by Steven Aftergood of FAS's Secrecy News: CRS's Afghanistan: Post-war Governance, Security, and U.S. policy [68-page pdf] and NATO in Afghanistan: A test of the Transatlantic Alliance [29-page pdf])
The “light footprint” in
The efforts of the Afghanistan Study Group to help re-think U.S. strategy comes at a time when polls indicate a weakening of resolve in the international community to see the effort in Afghanistan through to a successful conclusion. The Pew Global Attitudes Survey of June 2007 reported that the publics of NATO countries with significant numbers of troops in
Moreover, recent polls in
[T]he Study Group offers three overarching recommendations to bring sharper focus and attention to
The first is a proposal for the Administration and the Congress to decouple Iraq and Afghanistan in the legislative process and in the management of these conflicts in the Executive branch
The second is to establish a Special Envoy for
position within the Afghanistan government, charged with coordinating all aspects of U.S. policies towards U.S. . Afghanistan
The third is to propose an international mandate to formulate a new unified strategy to stabilize
over the next five years and to build international support for it. Afghanistan
The Center for the Study of the Presidency (CSP) was closely engaged in the work of the Iraq Study Group. During the discussions of that group it became more and more evident that
While most of our analysis and recommendations fall into specific subject areas – including security, governance, counter-narcotics, development, and regional considerations – some of the challenges and solutions facing our effort in Afghanistan cut across those issues. This section deals with crosscutting recommendations.It is clear that one of the key challenges that the mission in
For that purpose, the Study Group proposes to establish an Eminent Persons Group to develop a long-term, coherent international strategy for
In July 2007, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) issued a report on the costs of
While arguments have been made that in effect the two missions are practically decoupled, we believe this to be insufficient. There is, accordingly, an emerging view that
Decoupling these two conflicts likely will improve the overall