An Afghanistan Strategy for Trump - Neumann, Petraeus, Wayne
Good strategies are essential for the priority national-security challenges America faces, whether it is Syria, ISIS, Russia, China, North Korea or Afghanistan.
President Trump is dispatching National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster to Afghanistan as part of a U.S. strategy in that key country. Afghanistan is America’s longest-standing commitment in the post-9/11 struggle against terrorism and remains a frontline state in that effort. In February, the commanding U.S. general in Afghanistan testified that some twenty terrorist groups are operating in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, the “highest concentration” in the world.
Despite massive investments by the United States and its allies, Afghanistan still faces a vigorous Taliban insurgency with safe havens in neighboring Pakistan, as well as serious governance and development challenges. The Trump administration is wisely taking a careful look at the U.S. approach, including the request by the U.S. commander to add troops. The proposals that emerge from the review merit close attention, given the human and financial treasure that America has invested and the national interest in ensuring that Afghanistan is not again a sanctuary for transnational extremists, as it was when Al Qaeda planned the 9/11 attacks there.
The policy review will draw lessons from the United States’ fifteen year involvement. National Security Advisor McMaster, among others, served as part of the U.S. surge in Afghanistan. In particular, he worked to counter corruption in the country.
Many of us who worked on Afghanistan during these years will look for an integrated multiyear strategy that presents a sustainable way forward for ending the conflict and providing stability to a country that has suffered so much. With others, we have argued that the United States should maintain its presence and support for the Afghan government and against the Taliban with the objective of forging an enduring partnership.
While recognizing the serious obstacles, we cite America’s strong interest in preventing Afghanistan from again becoming a space where international terrorists can flourish and threaten others. Some will question the wisdom of continuing U.S. involvement, given past promises of success, the costs of a longer commitment, the performance of our Afghan allies, continuing Pakistani support for the Taliban and the slim prospects for a solution. But whatever side of the argument one is on, it makes great sense to review U.S. involvement, strategy and programs, and to develop clear objectives and a vision for the path forward. - Read More