President Obama should pursue a more sweeping troop drawdown in Afghanistan that focuses a residual force on counterterrorist operations, and helps Washington devote more resources to fixing severe domestic problems, says CFR President Richard N. Haass.
President Obama's decision to remove thirty thousand troops from Afghanistan in just over a year heightens the difficulty in securing the east and south of the country against far-from-defeated Taliban forces, writes CFR's Max Boot.
President Obama was wise to replace General Stanley McChrystal as Afghan commander, but he should now mount a thorough review of the costly and uncertain nation-building policy in Afghanistan, writes CFR President Richard N. Haass.
During Afghan President Karzai's visit to Washington this week, it's important the White House reassure him and the Afghan public of the U.S. commitment to long-term success in Afghanistan, says CFR's Brett McGurk.
The latest spate of violence in Afghanistan is unlikely to change the course of planned troop withdrawals, but should refocus efforts on bringing under control Pakistan-based militants, says CFR's Daniel Markey.
The Taliban needs to be convinced of a firm U.S. commitment in Afghanistan before it will negotiate a settlement, says CFR's Stephen Biddle, and any deal will have to also involve the Pakistani, U.S., and Afghan governments.
Pakistan's instability, a Taliban insurgency, and growing skepticism in the United States argue for an earlier drawing-down of forces from Afghanistan if there's no progress, says Richard Armitage, co-chair of a new CFR Independent Task Force Report.
Col. Gian P. Gentile interviewed by Bernard Gwertzman
President Obama's political objectives for Afghanistan are limited and feasible, says military historian Gian Gentile, but the military's counterinsurgency strategy and "maximalist approach of nation-building" could take a generation to achieve.
While senior military officials are urging support for Afghanistan operations, Afghans are fearful about the Kandahar offensive and uncertain about U.S. plans to start withdrawing troops in July 2011, says CFR's Stephen Biddle.
The U.S.-led offensive against the Taliban stronghold of Marja is an important part of the "hold-and-build" strategy to extend Afghan government control into restive provinces, says CFR expert Max Boot.
Two key issues in Afghanistan are whether President Hamid Karzai will implement reforms and whether the American public is willing to invest the time it will take for a successful counterinsurgency, says CFR defense expert Stephen Biddle.
CFR's Kim Barker, on return from a recent trip to Kabul, says Afghans are disillusioned with both the reelection of President Hamid Karzai and what they perceive as the U.S desire for an exit strategy.
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