Agenda1. A Brief History of U.S. Policy Toward Afghanistan2. The Obama Administration’s Policy3. Issues and Challenges
U.S. foreign assistanceBrief History of U.S. Policy Toward Afghanistan First contact 1820; Josiah Harlan, The Man Who Would Be King. In 1921, the United States establishes diplomatic legation and begins formally building its relationship with Afghanistan. Cold War Geopolitics: 1945-1979 Strengthening relationships and foreign assistance Peace Corps active between 1962 and 1979 All aid to Afghanistan cut off after Soviet invasion in 1979 Operation Cyclone: 1979 - 1989
U.S. foreign assistanceBrief History of U.S. Policy Toward Afghanistan Pre-9/11 Clinton & Bush Administration Policy Both held talks with Taliban to moderate its policies Both withheld recognition of Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan Both urged the end of discrimination against women Clinton fires cruise misses at AQ training camps in eastern Afghanistan and gets UN to adopt sanctions after AQ bombings of U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya Bush steps up engagement with Pakistan; considers military assistance to Northern Alliance but refrains from doing so.
U.S. foreign assistanceBrief History of U.S. Policy Toward Afghanistan Post-9/11 Bush Administration Policy Under the RUMF the U.S. overthrows Taliban when it refuses to extradite UBL, completed by December 2001 Afghanistan takes a back seat in terms of leadership time and attention, and resourcing to the Iraq war (“nation-building light”) U.S.-led NATO alliance plays leading role in Afghanistan; U.S. footprint consists of only one brigade combat team & SF teams until early 2007 Focus is on security assistance; U.S. has “lead country” role in building capacity of the Afghan National Army Adds a Marine battalion in 2008
U.S. foreign assistance Obama Administration Policy Three bigd reviews. . . Launches strategic review upon taking office, but sends an additional 17,000 troops in February 2009 before review is complete, based on earlier request of ISAF Commander March 2009 gives results of policy review and announces “comprehensive new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan” Narrows the mission to “core goal” . . . “to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan and to prevent their return to either country in the future”
U.S. foreign assistance Obama Administration Policy Increases focus on Pakistan (AfPak) and launches trilateral commission b/w U.S., Afghanistan and Pakistan (March 2009 speech) Places greater focus on training and increasing size of Afghan security forces so they can take the lead, including partnering U.S. with Afghan units (March 2009 speech) Increases civilian effort for economic development and good governance: a “capable and accountable Afghan government” (March 2009 speech)
U.S. foreign assistance Obama Administration Policy May 2009 ISAF Assessment GEN McChrystal “the overalls situation is deteriorating” and says if turnaround doesn’t occur in next 12 months the U.S. “risks and outcome where defeating the insurgency is no longer possible” Prioritizes governance efforts equally with security efforts Advocates raising Afghan National Security Force endstrengths to 400,000 Geographic prioritization of effort Need to change ISAF operational culture with greater unity of effort and interaction with the population
U.S. foreign assistance Obama Administration Policy ISAF Assessment leads to another review . . . Fall 2009 strategy review considers ISAF Assessment and classified set of “resource recommendations.” Debate over: narrow focus on counter-terrorism, “a counter- terrorism plus” approach, and more multi-faceted campaign described in ISAF Assessment (detailed in Obama’s Wars) Obama’s December 2009 West Point Speech Confirms core U.S. goal & focus on security Announces deployment of 30,000 more troops Launches civilian “surge” Sets deadline: condition-based withdraw of U.S. forces beginning July 2011
U.S. foreign assistance Obama Administration Policy New policy change . . . Afghanistan-Pakistan Annual Review, December 2010 President Obama says there is “significant progress” toward the core goal, but that “the gains we’ve made are still fragile and reversible” Contains two new elements and a clarification . . . 1. States the transition to full Afghan lead will conclude by 2014 2. Stresses U.S. & Afghanistan will form a “new strategy partnership,” but did not propose what that would look it like What does he make clear?
U.S. foreign assistance Obama Administration Policy We are not nation-building . . . “And that’s why, from the start, I’ve been very clear about our core goal. It’s not to defeat every last threat to the security of Afghanistan, because, ultimately, it is Afghans who must secure their country. And it’s not nation- building, because it is Afghans who must build their nation. Rather, we are focused on disrupting, dismantling and defeating al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and preventing its capacity to threaten America and our allies in the future.”
U.S. foreign assistance Obama Administration Policy Most recent policy speech June 2011 . . . Reaffirms commitment to 2014 and “core goal” Says U.S. is continuing to make progress; outlines plan to withdraw 33,000 more troops Announces U.S. is holding preliminary peace talks with the Taliban will work toward a political settlement b/w Afghan government and all opposition groups, including Taliban Also . . . 10 year anniversary of start of war (October 7, 2001) Bonn Conference fails to achieve consensus on transition (Dec) Taliban opens office in Qatar, cancels talks in March 2012
Issues and Challenges Effect of Koran burnings and Robert Bales on timeline How the transition will occur (NATO Summit in May) President Obama warns against “a rush to exit” Security issues: force size, continuing progress Economics: 90% of Afghan budget comes form foreign aid; says it will need at least $10 billion annually to maintain commitments Karzai succession Presidential election in 2014, no good replacement Pakistan Sanctuary for AQ Taliban proxies vis-à-vis India
Final Thoughts President Obama, December 1, 2009“If I did not think that the security of the United Statesand the safety of the American people were at stake in Afghanistan, I would gladly order every single one of our troops home tomorrow.” "Our overarching goal remains the same: to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and to prevent its capacity to threaten America and our allies in the future."