As a candidate, Barack Obama promised to withdraw from Iraq, “finish the fight against al-Qaida and the Taliban,” shut down Gitmo and break through the impasse with Iran. But as president, Obama is learning that conducting U.S. foreign policy is far more difficult than simply critiquing it. As a consequence, on the central foreign policy and national security issue of the day — the global struggle against Islamic terrorists and their patrons and partners — there is far more common ground between Obama and former President George W. Bush than Obama’s supporters expected, and less change than his opponents feared. […]
CHOWKAY VALLEY, Afghanistan — When U.S. Army Capt. Joe Snowden first asked the elders in this remote valley in eastern Afghanistan to stop growing poppies, they laughed. The poppies, once processed into heroin, fuel the drug trade that provides much of the financing for the Taliban and other fighters in the area, explained Snowden, who is deployed here from the 173rd Airborne Brigade, based in Italy. Although the elders assured Snowden that they understood this, his request still bordered on the absurd. So did Snowden’s request for the name of the leader of the local insurgent cell, which made the […]
NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff talks to Ali Jalali, Afghanistan’s former interior minister, and Clare Lockhart, a former United Nations adviser to Afghanistan, about corruption in Afghanistan. In light of President Barack Obama’s surprise visit to that country last week, Jalali and Lockhart discuss whether Afghan President Hamid Karzai is now taking up the anti-corruption cause in earnest. Having trouble viewing this video? Click here to watch.
President Barack Obama had multiple audiences in mind during his lightning 6-hour visit to Afghanistan this weekend. In both his meetings and his speech delivered to U.S. soldiers and broadcast worldwide, Obama wanted to catalyze improved Afghan government performance, reassure Afghan citizens, bolster U.S. troop morale, and make his commitment to winning the Afghan war clear to global audiences. For security reasons, Obama departed unannounced from Washington on Saturday night, arriving at Bagram airfield, on the outskirts of Kabul, early Sunday evening. He then flew by helicopter to meet Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Afterwards, Obama returned to Bagram to address […]
The New America Foundation hosts Major General Gordon Messenger, the lead spokesman on British operations in Afghanistan and former Commander of the UK Task Force Helmand. Messenger says resources and a strong learning curve have contributed to an uptick in on the ground successes in Afghanistan. In a Q&A with attendees, Messenger answers questions about the withdrawal timeline, Afghan security forces and civilians working alongside military operations.
BAGRAM, Afghanistan — The two Russian-made helicopters swooped low over the village of Mahageer, pushing a stinging swirl of dust over the vineyards and pastures. The Mi-17 transports from the Afghan National Army Air Corps’ Kabul Wing touched down in close formation, their rotors just yards apart. Squads of Afghan National Army commandos leaped from the choppers and fanned out, aiming their M-16 rifles. With the perimeter secure, the commandos pulled cardboard boxes from the helicopters. When their holds were empty, the Mi-17s lifted off, blasting the fields with a fresh wave of grit. Last week’s Afghan air assault had […]
For close to a decade now I’ve been roaming the world, delivering in Johnny Appleseed fashion a message that I refined just after 9/11 for the secretary of defense’s Office of Force Transformation: The world’s core powers must develop a systemic approach to postwar and post-disaster coalition interventions inside what I call the “Non-Integrated Gap,” by which I mean those countries and regions least connected to globalization. This vision encompasses the so-called “whole of government” approach, but extends it vigorously to also include the private sector, based on the knowledge that jobs are the only exit strategy. In short, when […]
NEW DELHI — Last month, suicide bombers attacked hotels and guesthouses in Kabul, killing 18 people and injuring 35 more, with most of the victims Indians. India immediately rushed National Security Adviser Shiv Shankar Menon to the Afghan capital for a first-hand assessment of security arrangements for the roughly 4,000 Indians working on various aid and development projects in Afghanistan. The bombing is the latest in a string of attacks, the most high-profile of which remains the July 2008 bombing of the Indian Embassy in Kabul, which left 58 people dead. As a result, India has strengthened its Afghan policy […]
BAGRAM, Afghanistan — Gov. Abdul Basir Salangi grew worried as the snow fell heavily in Afghanistan’s Parwan province on Feb. 8. Every day, some 14,000 cars, trucks and buses pass through Parwan’s Salang Pass — a system of winding roads and tunnels cutting through and over the Hindu Kush Mountains into northern Afghanistan. The snow could strand motorists, or even trap them in tunnels. In 1982, hundreds of people died when Soviet military convoys collided inside one of the tunnels. Vehicles idling behind the accident site filled the tunnel with carbon monoxide, suffocating the people inside. Salangi grabbed some security […]
WPR’s David Axe provides raw footage of Soldiers from the 82nd Airborne, attached to Task Force Gladius at Bagram as they patrol Parwan province. Axe’s most recent column discusses the challenges that face troops on the ground as the Afghanistan “surge” pushes forward.
BAGRAM, Afghanistan — Standing on a mountaintop, 1st Lt. Maximilian Soto swept his arm from side to side, indicating a 400-square-mile expanse of fields, rivers and streams surrounding the village of Estalef in Parwan province, just north of Kabul. “All this,” he said, “is mine.” With a force of just 26 men from the Special Troops Battalion of the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, Soto provides security for a chunk of Afghanistan the size of a typical American county. “It’s quite difficult,” he told World Politics Review. In December, U.S. President Barack Obama announced he would be sending 30,000 new […]
If our European allies want to capture Barack Obama’s full attention, they could certainly do so by announcing en masse their intention to withdraw from Afghanistan by the coming July. Europe would suddenly loom large on Obama’s radar screen, triggering a flurry of diplomatic activity by the White House in a bid to prevent or at least whittle down the extent of the exodus. Obama would be in Madrid like a shot for this month’s EU-U.S. summit — from which he had previously begged off, citing commitments at home — and again for the NATO summit in April. The Europeans’ […]
National security types have long noted — and complained about — the relative lack of military veterans in Congress, which results in too few experienced votes being cast when the prospect of overseas interventions is raised. I have long noted — and complained about — the fact that Congress’ most prominent military vets hail from the Vietnam era, which has led many to instinctively reject the necessity and utility of conducting nation-building and counterinsurgency. Clearly, our lengthy interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan will alter this generational equation, but how will the experiences of today’s veterans impact their votes in tomorrow’s […]
NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff interviews U.S. Army Brigadier General Ben Hodges of the Southern Region Command in Kandahar about the Marjah offensive. Hodges says that the focus in Marjah is on governance, despite military operations, and that he expects a few more weeks of fighting there before the mission is complete. Furthermore, he says the tactics used to fight insurgents in Marjah will be used as a model for future offensives.
At an event last week at New York University, four men who know the Taliban better than most Westerners shared their perceptions of the group behind the insurgency fighting coalition forces in Afghanistan. What emerged was a portrait of shadowy figures, little understood by even those who have had close contact with the group. With “reintegration” now the “buzzword du jour” and calls for a negotiated settlement to the war gaining momentum, we have yet to understand just who it is we will be negotiating with. “We still understand very little about the Taliban,” said Alex Strick van Linschoten, echoing […]
It would be hard, under any circumstances, not to see this as a pretty significant development: The leader of anal-Qaida-linked Chinese militant group has been killed in a U.S. drone attack inPakistan’s restive tribal region, an official said on Monday. AbdulHaq al-Turkistani, the leader of the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Party, and twocomrades died when a missile fired from a CIA-operated pilotless aircraft strucka vehicle in North Waziristan district Feb. 15. . . . Al-Turkistani hails from Uighur in China’s eastern province ofXinjiang. But in the current context of strained U.S.-China relations, as well as the need for China’s UNSC vote […]