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U.S. Strategy for Pakistan and Afghanistan

U.S. Strategy for Pakistan and Afghanistan

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Ahead of President Obama’s December review of the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan, a new Council on Foreign Relations (CFR)-sponsored Independent Task Force report on U.S. Strategy for Pakistan and Afghanistan finds that the current approach to the region is at a critical point. “We are mindful of the real threat we face. But we are also aware of the costs of the present strategy. We cannot accept these costs unless the strategy begins to show signs of progress,” says the Task Force.

While the Task Force offers a qualified endorsement of the current U.S. effort in Afghanistan, including plans to begin a conditions-based military drawdown in July 2011, the Obama administration’s upcoming December 2010 review should be “a clear-eyed assessment of whether there is sufficient overall progress to conclude that the strategy is working.” If not, the report argues that “a more significant drawdown to a narrower military mission would be warranted.”

The Task Force, chaired by former deputy secretary of state Richard L. Armitage and former national security adviser Samuel R. Berger, and directed by CFR Senior Fellow Daniel S. Markey, notes that nine years into the Afghan war, the outcome of the struggles in the region are still uncertain and the stakes are high. “What happens in Afghanistan and Pakistan matters to Americans,” affirms the report. It warns that “militants in Pakistan and Afghanistan pose a direct threat to the United States and its allies. They jeopardize the stability of Pakistan, a nuclear power that lives in an uneasy peace with its rival, India.”

The Task Force supports the U.S. investment in a long-term partnership with Pakistan, but underscores that it is only sustainable if Pakistan takes action against all terrorist organizations based on its soil. Concrete Pakistani actions against terror groups “are the bedrock requirements for U.S. partnership and assistance over the long run.” In Pakistan, “the United States aims to degrade and defeat the terrorist groups that threaten U.S. interests from its territory and to prevent turmoil that would imperil the Pakistani state and risk the security of Pakistan’s nuclear program.”

The Task Force notes that these goals are best achieved through partnership with a stable Pakistani state, but that “the challenge of fighting regional terrorist networks is compounded by the fact that Pakistan draws distinctions between such groups.” Flood-ravaged Pakistan also faces “enormous new stresses on the state—already challenged by political, economic, and security problems—increasing disaffection among its people, and weakening its ability to fight extremists in its territory.”

In Afghanistan, “the United States seeks to prevent the country from becoming a base for terrorist groups that target the United States and its allies and to diminish the potential that Afghanistan reverts to civil war, which would destabilize the region.” Afghanistan faces the challenges of “pervasive corruption that breeds the insurgency; weak governance that creates a vacuum; Taliban resilience that feeds an atmosphere of intimidation; and an erratic leader whose agenda may not be the same as that of the United States.”
Ahead of President Obama’s December review of the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan, a new Council on Foreign Relations (CFR)-sponsored Independent Task Force report on U.S. Strategy for Pakistan and Afghanistan finds that the current approach to the region is at a critical point. “We are mindful of the real threat we face. But we are also aware of the costs of the present strategy. We cannot accept these costs unless the strategy begins to show signs of progress,” says the Task Force.

While the Task Force offers a qualified endorsement of the current U.S. effort in Afghanistan, including plans to begin a conditions-based military drawdown in July 2011, the Obama administration’s upcoming December 2010 review should be “a clear-eyed assessment of whether there is sufficient overall progress to conclude that the strategy is working.” If not, the report argues that “a more significant drawdown to a narrower military mission would be warranted.”

The Task Force, chaired by former deputy secretary of state Richard L. Armitage and former national security adviser Samuel R. Berger, and directed by CFR Senior Fellow Daniel S. Markey, notes that nine years into the Afghan war, the outcome of the struggles in the region are still uncertain and the stakes are high. “What happens in Afghanistan and Pakistan matters to Americans,” affirms the report. It warns that “militants in Pakistan and Afghanistan pose a direct threat to the United States and its allies. They jeopardize the stability of Pakistan, a nuclear power that lives in an uneasy peace with its rival, India.”

The Task Force supports the U.S. investment in a long-term partnership with Pakistan, but underscores that it is only sustainable if Pakistan takes action against all terrorist organizations based on its soil. Concrete Pakistani actions against terror groups “are the bedrock requirements for U.S. partnership and assistance over the long run.” In Pakistan, “the United States aims to degrade and defeat the terrorist groups that threaten U.S. interests from its territory and to prevent turmoil that would imperil the Pakistani state and risk the security of Pakistan’s nuclear program.”

The Task Force notes that these goals are best achieved through partnership with a stable Pakistani state, but that “the challenge of fighting regional terrorist networks is compounded by the fact that Pakistan draws distinctions between such groups.” Flood-ravaged Pakistan also faces “enormous new stresses on the state—already challenged by political, economic, and security problems—increasing disaffection among its people, and weakening its ability to fight extremists in its territory.”

In Afghanistan, “the United States seeks to prevent the country from becoming a base for terrorist groups that target the United States and its allies and to diminish the potential that Afghanistan reverts to civil war, which would destabilize the region.” Afghanistan faces the challenges of “pervasive corruption that breeds the insurgency; weak governance that creates a vacuum; Taliban resilience that feeds an atmosphere of intimidation; and an erratic leader whose agenda may not be the same as that of the United States.”

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Published by: Council on Foreign Relations on Dec 14, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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10/29/2013

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Independent Task Force Report No. 65Richard L. Armitage and Samuel R. Berger,
Chairs 
 Daniel S. Markey,
 Project Director 
 
U.S. Strategyfor Pakistan andAfghanistan
 
U.S. Strategy forPakistan and Afghanistan

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