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Afghanistan

Kabul Bombing’s Political Fallout

  • By
  • Peter Beinart,
  • New America Foundation
June 30, 2011 |

"If they give the security responsibilities to the current government at 10:00 a.m., the government will collapse around 12 noon. They cannot live without foreigners." Those are the words of Nazir Amini, a car dealer caught in Kabul's Intercontinental Hotel when it was besieged this week by Taliban fighters. We need to take them to heart.

A Brand-New Plan for Afghanistan

  • By
  • Fred Kaplan,
  • New America Foundation
June 23, 2011 |

President Barack Obama's decision to pull 33,000 troops out of Afghanistan by the end of next summer—10,000 of them by the end of this year—reflects a scaling back of U.S. goals and strategy in the war. Either that, or it doesn't make much sense.

Military Experts Scrutinize Obama's Drawdown Plan

  • By
  • Douglas Ollivant,
  • New America Foundation
June 23, 2011 |

This speech is a welcome step toward a sustainable Afghanistan policy, one that realizes that our interests in that country are real, but limited. This speech puts us on a path that aligns our commitment to Afghanistan with these limited interests -- a foreign policy one might almost call "humble."

Ducking Afghanistan in the Afghan Speech

  • By
  • Peter Beinart,
  • New America Foundation
June 23, 2011 |

President Obama's Afghanistan speeches are never really about Afghanistan. George W. Bush wanted his presidency to be about Iraq. From the beginning, President Obama has wanted his presidency not to be about Afghanistan, and so whenever he brings up the subject, he ends up talking about the other things for which he'd rather be remembered.

Behind the Scene of the Afghanistan Troop Withdrawal Plan

  • By
  • Peter Bergen,
  • New America Foundation
June 23, 2011 |

According to senior administration officials, the planning for President Barack Obama's announcement for the drawdown from Afghanistan began in January of this year when the president summoned top members of his national security team into the Oval Office and tasked them with coming up with a plan for the drawdown.

The calculations that went into the drawdown decision included the fact that "remarkable and "unexpected" progress had been made degrading al Qaeda infrastructure in its bases in the tribal regions of Pakistan over the past 18 months, explained one of those officials.

Washington's Phantom War

  • By
  • Peter Bergen,
  • Katherine Tiedemann,
  • New America Foundation
June 22, 2011 |

One hot summer evening in 2009, in a small village in the remote Pakistani tribal agency of South Waziristan, a pair of Hellfire missiles fired from an unmanned Predator drone slammed into a house, killing the chief of the Pakistani Taliban, Baitullah Mehsud, along with his wife. About a year later, in May 2010, down a dirt road from Miran Shah, the main town in North Waziristan, a missile from another Predator killed Mustafa Abu al-Yazid (known as Saeed al-Masri), a founding member of al Qaeda, along with his wife and several of their children.

The Drawdown Debate

  • By
  • Douglas Ollivant,
  • New America Foundation
June 20, 2011 |

The Afghanistan comments -- if perhaps not a fully articulated Afghanistan policy -- expressed by Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman (and to a lesser extent, Mitt Romney) provide an opportunity for a real look at a long-term U.S. policy for Afghanistan. The current debate over troop levels is good in that it focuses attention on the problem, but asking how many troops we should withdraw this summer and over the coming year is the wrong question, and much too narrowly focused. To date, our actions in Afghanistan seem to be reactive.

Where Will Zawahiri Take al-Qaeda?

  • By
  • Peter Bergen,
  • New America Foundation
June 19, 2011 |

There's nothing like finally getting the top job after a decade of faithfully playing second fiddle to a high-profile boss. But for al-Qaeda's Ayman al-Zawahiri, the dour Egyptian surgeon and longtime deputy to Osama bin Laden, succeeding his old leader comes with an unexpected challenge: His predecessor, it turns out, has gifted him a bit of a lemon. In recent years, al-Qaeda has become the Blockbuster Video of global jihad.

The organization and brand are in deep trouble, and Zawahiri is quite unlikely to become the leader who can turn things around.

The White House Debates Afghanistan—Again

  • By
  • Fred Kaplan,
  • New America Foundation
June 9, 2011 |

The White House debate over how many troops to withdraw from Afghanistan next month is really a surrogate for a larger, more fractious debate over the wisdom and strategy of the war itself.

Five Myths About Pakistan

  • By
  • Anatol Lieven,
  • New America Foundation
June 6, 2011 |

Late last month, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said there was no evidence that Pakistani officials had known that Osama bin Laden lived undetected blocks from the country's equivalent to West Point. But after the al-Qaeda leader was killed in Abbottabad on May 1, others were skeptical. "How could they not know?" said Sen. John Kerry (D. - Mass.). "Did nobody have some questions about who the hell was living behind those walls?"

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