Catherine Powell argues that the advances made by Afghan women since the 2001 U.S.-led intervention remain fragile. She recommends that the United States bolster gender equality before the drawdown is complete and continue working with Afghanistan to maintain these gains in the future.
CFR's Daniel Markey sheds light on the two Taliban branches—the Afghan-based group that negotiated the release of a U.S. prisoner of war, and the Pakistani Taliban, which attacked the Karachi airport last weekend.
President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry gave statements on May 27, 2014, on the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan after 2014. They outline the number of staff and troops that will be involved in upholding security commitments and assisting in political and economic transitions. President Obama also spoke on May 28, 2014, at the graduation ceremony at the West Point Academy, to discuss how Afghanistan fits into the broader military strategy.
"Empathy can provide insights into how other actors are likely to perceive and react to what the United States does, and expose false assumptions that sometimes underpin strategic mistakes.This kind of information is critical as the United States weighs options for action–coercive or otherwise–in Syria, Ukraine and beyond. The case of Afghanistan shows that the human, financial and geopolitical costs are too high for empathy to be ignored."
Votes are still being counted in Afghanistan's presidential election, but preliminary results suggest that no candidate won a majority. If these results hold up and no backroom deals are cooked up between Afghan politicians, a runoff poll will follow and the victor will not likely be declared until late summer. That timeline is making U.S. and NATO military planners very nervous.
In advance of the presidential election in Afghanistan, Gayle Lemmon writes on why some policymakers are hoping that "things go well – or at least well enough – to keep both the Obama administration and the American public on board."
"In an unusually emotional interview, the departing Afghan president sought to explain why he has been such a harsh critic of the twelve-year-old U.S. war effort here. He said he's deeply troubled by all the casualties he has seen, including those in U.S. military operations. He feels betrayed by what he calls an insufficient U.S. focus on targeting Taliban sanctuaries in Pakistan. And he insists that public criticism was the only way to guarantee an American response to his concerns."
After the tragic reappearance of polio in Afghanistan's capital city, Kabul, Laurie Garrett and Maxine Builder explore how Taliban plots to obstruct polio vaccinations could derail many hard-fought gains in global health and development.
There are good reasons to worry about a precipitous departure of U.S. and NATO troops from Afghanistan. The country remains fragile and the Taliban still threaten key areas. Withdrawing all troops would leave the Afghans to fend for themselves against a resurgent Taliban. And because the United States uses its presence to monitor and target al-Qaeda and other threats, such as the proliferation of nuclear weapons from the region, leaving the country completely would mean having less warning or ability to respond.
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