As the Trump administration completes its review of policy on Afghanistan and South Asia, public debate is focused on the war’s military component, including President Trump’s decision to delegate decisions on troop levels to the Pentagon. Yet a few thousand more troops alone will be insufficient to end the war. A security plan, including the anticipated troop increase, must be combined with a political strategy that addresses Afghan domestic and regional factors fueling the war.
To understand why the United States is stalemated in Afghanistan, one needs only read the testimony of General John W. Nicholson, Commander, U.S. Forces – Afghanistan, before the Senate Armed Services Committee on February 9, 2017. General Nicholson discussed the number and disposition of troops that might improve the terms of the current stalemate. This is the one factor General Nicholson can affect. Despite the tremendous sacrifices it will entail from the Afghan forces, it has little bearing on the war’s outcome.
India’s decision to boycott China’s Belt and Road Forum has reinvigorated the much-needed debate on the strategic relationship between the two Asian giants. This debate comes on the heels of the February 23, 2017 India-China Strategic Dialogue in Beijing, where the two states found, among their divergences, a convergence on Afghanistan that contradicts some of Delhi’s received wisdom.
Whether launching a few missiles at a Syrian air base, sailing an aircraft carrier toward North Korea (or not), dropping MOAB, or sending more troops to Afghanistan, tactical demonstrations of U.S. strength not tied to strategic objectives sooner rather than later deteriorate into bloody demonstrations of futility.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a conflict in possession of no military solution must be in want of more troops. Or so one would think from the recommendations on how to succeed in Afghanistan made by Gen. John Nicholson, the force commander in Afghanistan; Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of Central Command; and Republican senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham. More troops with “greater authorities” will “break” or “end” the stalemate that all agree exists. “Greater authorities” means putting U.S.
This report by Jonathan Caulkins, Mark Kleiman, and Jonathan Kulick contributes to the ongoing debate about counter-narcotics policies in Afghanistan, and in relation to counter-insurgency operations by adding a heretofore missing element–applied economic analysis of the effect of counter-narcotics policies. It does so by applying to a stylized depiction of the Afghan situation a standard model that economists and policy analysts have applied to a large range of policy areas.
In May of 2010 Tuft University’s Institute for Global Leadership gathered a select group of Afghan politicians and military officials, Pakistani journalists and scholars, United Nations officials, diplomats, humanitarian workers, and U.S. military representative to discuss on the opportunities for, and obstacles to, security and political reconciliation in Afghanistan. This report presents a summary of that meeting.
The absence of effective oversight and control of private security providers (PSPs) employed by the international community undermines the credibility and effectiveness of the Afghan government, the international military and diplomatic presence, and reconstruction organizations.