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Afghanistan Study Group Report

Afghanistan Study Group Report

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Published by ikozyreva
In addition:
http://www.registan.net/index.php/2010/09/11/the-afghanistan-study-group-report-an-exercise-in-determined-ignorance/
In addition:
http://www.registan.net/index.php/2010/09/11/the-afghanistan-study-group-report-an-exercise-in-determined-ignorance/

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Published by: ikozyreva on Sep 16, 2010
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05/18/2012

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REPORT OF THE AFGHANISTAN STUDY GROUP
 ANEWWAY FORWARD:
RETHINKING U.S. STRATEGY IN AFGHANISTAN
 
TABLE OF CONTENTS
SUMMARY........................................................................................................................................................1
The Situation
......................................................................................................................................................1
A New Way Forward 
.........................................................................................................................................2AMERICA’SINTERESTS....................................................................................................................................4WHAT’SWRONGWITHTHECURRENTU.S.STRATEGY?..............................................................................5
The Cost of the Afghanistan War 
......................................................................................................................5ANEWWAYFORWARD:AFIVE-POINTAPPROACH......................................................................................7CONCLUSION...................................................................................................................................................9ABOUTTHEAFGHANISTANSTUDYGROUP...................................................................................................9MYTHSANDREALITIESINTHEAFGHANDEBATE.........................................................................................10MembersoftheAfghanistanStudyGroup........................................................................................................12
 
SUMMARY
Atalmostnineyears,theU.S.warinAfghanistanisthelongestinourhistory,surpassingeventheVietnamWar,anditwillshortlysurpasstheSovietUnion’sownextendedmilitarycampaignthere.Withthesurge,itwillcosttheU.S.taxpayersnearly$100billionperyear,asumroughlyseventimeslargerthanAfghanistan’sannualgrossnationalproduct(GNP)of$14billionandgreaterthanthetotalannualcostofthenewU.S.healthinsuranceprogram.
1
ThousandsofAmericanandalliedpersonnelhavebeenkilledorgravelywounded.TheU.S.interestsatstakeinAfghanistandonotwarrantthislevelofsacrice.PresidentObamajustiedexpandingourcommitmentbysayingthegoalwaseradicatingAlQaeda.YetAlQaedaisnolongerasignicantpresenceinAfghanistan,andthereareonlysome400hard-coreAlQaedamembersremainingintheentireAf/Paktheater,mostofthemhidinginPakistan’snorthwestprovinces.America’sarmedforceshavefoughtbravelyandwell,andtheirdedicationisunquestioned.Butweshouldnotaskthemtomakesacricesunnecessarytoourcorenationalinterests,particularlywhendoingsothreatenslong-termneedsandprioritiesbothathomeandabroad.Insteadoftopplingterrorists,America’sAfghanwarhasbecomeanambitiousandfruitlesseffortat“nation-building.”WearemiredinacivilwarinAfghanistanandarestrugglingtoestablishaneffectivecentralgovernmentinacountrythathaslongbeenfragmentedanddecentralized.Nomatterhowdesirablethisobjectivemightbeintheabstract,itisnotessentialtoU.S.securityanditisnotagoalforwhichtheU.S.militaryiswellsuited.Thereisnocleardenitionofwhatwouldcomprise“success”inthisendeavor.CreatingauniedAfghanstatewouldrequirecommittingmanymoreAmericanlivesandhundredsofbillionsofadditionalU.S.dollarsformanyyearstocome.AstheWikiLeakswardiarycomprisedofmorethan91,000secretreportsontheAfghanistanWarmakesclear,anysenseofAmericanandalliedprogressintheconicthasbeenunderminedbyrevelationsthatmanymoreciviliandeathshaveoccurredthanhavebeenofciallyacknowledgedastheresultofU.S.andalliedstrikeaccidents.ThePakistanInter-ServicesIntelligencecontinuedtoprovidelogisticsandnancialsupporttotheAfghanTalibanevenasU.S.soldierswereghtingtheseunits.ItisclearthatKarzaigovernmentafliatesandappointeesinruralAfghanistanhaveoftenproventobemorecorruptandruthlessthantheTaliban.Prospectsforsuccessaredim.AsformerSecretaryofStateHenryKissingerrecentlywarned,“Afghanistanhasneverbeenpaciedbyforeignforces.”
2
The2010springoffensiveinMarjahwasinconclusive,andasupposedly“decisive”summeroffensiveinKandaharhasbeendelayedandtheexpectationsdowngraded.U.S.andalliedcasualtiesreachedanall-timehighinJuly,andseveralNATOallieshaveannouncedplanstowithdrawtheirownforces.1
1
https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/af.html and Congressional Research Service July 16, 2010http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/RL33110.pdf”
2
Henry A. Kissinger, “America Needs an Afghan Strategy, Not an Alibi,”
Washington Post 
, June 24, 2010.
THE SITUATION
The U.S. war in Afghanistan is now the longest in ourhistory, and is costing the U.S. taxpayers nearly $100 billionper year, roughly seven times more than Afghanistan’sannual gross national product (GNP) of $14 billion.
1
 Prosecuting the war in Afghanistan is not essential toU.S. security.We have justied expanding our commitment by sayingthe goal was eradicating Al Qaeda. Yet Al Qaeda is nolonger a signicant presence in Afghanistan. There areonly some 400 hard-core Al Qaeda members remaining inthe entire Af/Pak theatre.The conict in Afghanistan is commonly perceived as astruggle between the Karzai government and an insurgentTaliban movement, allied with international terrorists,who are seeking to overthrow that government. In fact,the conict is a civil war about power-sharing with linesof contention that are 1) partly ethnic, chiey, but notexclusively, between Pashtuns who dominate the south andother ethnicities such as Tajiks and Uzbeks who are moreprevalent in the north, 2) partly rural vs. urban, particularlywithin the Pashtun community, and 3) partly sectarian.With the U.S. intervention in force, the conict has alsocome to include resistance to what is seen as foreignmilitary occupation.Resolving the conict in Afghanistan has primarily to dowith resolving the distribution of power among thesefactions, and between the central government and theprovinces, and with appropriately decentralizing authority.Negotiated resolution of these conicts will reduce theinuence of extremists more readily than military actionwill. The Taliban itself is not a unied movement butinstead a label that is applied to many armed groupsand individuals that are only loosely aligned and do notnecessarily have a fondness for the fundamentalistideology of the most prominent Taliban leaders.

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