June 18, 2003 - Without greater support for the transitional government of President Hamid Karzai, security in Afghanistan will deteriorate further, prospects for economic reconstruction will dim, and Afghanistan will revert to warlord-dominated anarchy. This failure could gravely erode America’s credibility around the globe and mark a major defeat in the U.S.-led war on terrorism, warns a Chairmen’s Report on Afghanistan by the Independent Task Force on India and South Asia cosponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations and the Asia Society.
To prevent a return to anarchy, Washington needs to bolster the Karzai government’s ability to bring security and economic hope to the people of Afghanistan. The report makes three principal recommendations to achieve these goals: 1) Improve security by extending peacekeeping efforts beyond Kabul and accelerating development of the Afghan National Army (ANA); 2) Increase pressure on neighboring countries not to undercut the Karzai government by backing warlords or failing to curb pro-Taliban remnants; and 3) Provide at least $1 billion in reconstruction assistance for each of the next five years.
These are the major findings of the report issued by Task Force co-chairs Frank G. Wisner, former U.S. ambassador to India, Nicholas Platt, former U.S. ambassador to Pakistan and current president of the Asia Society, and Marshall M. Bouton, President of the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations.
The Task Force is co-directed by Dennis Kux, Senior Policy Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and Mahnaz Ispahani, Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, and includes a wide variety of regional, security, economic and academic experts. The report on Afghanistan is part of the larger work of the Task Force, which is also studying U.S. policy toward India, Pakistan, and Indo-Pakistani relations.
Specific Task Force recommendations for security, assistance and diplomatic actions the United States should take to avoid failure in Afghanistan include:
- Make peacekeeping part of the mandate for the 11,000 U.S. and coalition troops stationed outside Kabul, so they can support the central government against defiant warlords. Alternatively, the United States should support an enlargement of the 4,800-troop International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and an expansion of its mandate to operate outside the city of Kabul.
- Instruct U.S. forces to help implement the plan to demobilize, demilitarize, and reintegrate the regional militias, estimated at 100,000 strong. Without U.S. involvement, the program— vital to strengthening the central government— will likely fail.
- Dramatically increase the pace of developing the new ANA and the integration of selected militias into the ANA. The current target of a 9,000-man force by mid-2004 (when the permanent Afghan government is slated to take office) is ludicrously inadequate. Instead, the United States should be targeting a force of 27,000 men, including integrated militias, to give the central government a credible peacekeeping capability.
- Press Iran and Russia to stop aiding favored warlords and urge Pakistan to prevent pro-Taliban elements from using its territory for cross-border attacks. Tehran, Moscow and Islamabad all claim they are supporting the Karzai government and deny they are meddling in Afghan affairs; U.S. diplomacy should aim to bring reality in line with the stated policy.
- Launch a major diplomatic initiative to obtain international agreement on Afghanistan from its neighbors and other relevant countries. This accord would pledge non-interference in Afghanistan’s internal affairs, bar the supply of arms to warlords, and recognize Afghanistan’s borders.
- Make sure that U.S. aid programs match the priorities established by the Afghan government and are implemented under its aegis. Washington has accepted these ideas in principle but not in practice.
- Rebuild the Kabul-Kandahar road by the end of 2003, as promised by President Bush, and press other donors to move rapidly on road reconstruction. This will provide a vital economic boost and tangible evidence of reconstruction.
The Council on Foreign Relations is dedicated to increasing America’s understanding of the world and contributing ideas to U.S. foreign policy. The Council accomplishes this mainly by promoting constructive debates, clarifying world issues, producing reports, and publishing Foreign Affairs, the leading journal on global issues.
The Asia Society is America's leading institution dedicated to fostering understanding of Asia and communication between Americans and the peoples of Asia and the Pacific. A national nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization, the Society provides a forum for building awareness of the more than thirty countries broadly defined as the Asia-Pacific region.
Frank G. Wisner, II is Vice Chairman of External Affairs at American International Group, Inc. He was Ambassador to India from 1994 to 1997 and has also served in a number of senior positions in the U.S. government, including Undersecretary of Defense for Policy from 1993 to 1994 and Undersecretary of State for International Security Affairs from 1992 to 1993. He is a member of the Board of the U.S.-India Business Council.
Nicholas Platt became President of the Asia Society after a 34-year Foreign Service career. He served in China and Japan and as U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines (1987–91) and Pakistan (1991–92). Educated at Harvard College and Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, he is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a director of Fiduciary Trust Company International.
Marshall M. Bouton is President of the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations. Formerly, he enjoyed twenty years with the Asia Society, most recently as executive vice president and chief operating officer. An expert on South Asia, Dr. Bouton has worked for the Departments of Defense and State and spent eight years studying and working in India. He earned his B.A. cum laude from Harvard College, his M.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.
Dennis Kux, a retired Foreign Service South Asia specialist, is currently Senior Policy Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. While with the State Department, he spent fifteen years dealing with South Asia in Washington D.C. and in the region and served as Ambassador to the Ivory Coast. He first visited Afghanistan in 1958. He has written histories of U.S.-India and U.S.-Pakistan relations as well as numerous articles and book chapters on U.S.–South Asia relations.
Mahnaz Ispahani is Senior Fellow for South and West Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations. She served for a decade at the Ford Foundation, most recently as Deputy Director for global programs in human rights and international cooperation. Dr. Ispahani has directed democracy programs in Russia and in Pakistan for the National Democratic Institute. A Fellow and Research Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Harvard University’s Center for Science and International Affairs (now the Belfer Center), and the International Institute of Strategic Studies, she has published widely on South Asian security, politics and culture.
Full text of the Chairman’s Report on Afghanistan, from the Independent Task Force on India and South Asia co-sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations and the Asia Society.
Contact: Lisa Shields, Vice President, Communications, (212) 434-9888