Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s two-day stay in Moscow on Jan. 20-21 marked his first official bilateral visit and the first state visit by an Afghan president to the Russian Federation since its founding after the Soviet Union’s disintegration in December 1991. The trip — during which Karzai met with President Dmitry Medvedev, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, and other Russian political and economic leaders — provided an important opportunity to both confirm recent growth in formal ties between the two countries as well as impart additional momentum for further expanding the relationship. Karzai was accompanied by most of the Afghan cabinet, […]
When the Netherlands and other European members of NATO invoked Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, they almost certainly did not anticipate that, in doing so, they would find their armed forces engaged in a decade-long conflict in Afghanistan. The Article 5 declaration — holding that Sept. 11 was an attack on NATO’s collective security — was intended as a low-cost gesture of trans-Atlantic solidarity with the United States and the traumatized American people, rather than as an operational commitment to wage a protracted and frustrating conflict. But through NATO, European militaries […]
Last June, German President Horst Koehler, after visiting Afghanistan, called Germany’s participation in the war there vital to protecting long-term German interests. Koehler, whose role is primarily ceremonial, with little real political responsibility, told a German radio station that Germany’s export-driven economy and dependency on foreign trade meant that, “. . . in an emergency, military intervention is necessary to defend . . . trade routes, or prevent . . . regional instabilities that would certainly have negative effects on [Germany’s] trade, jobs and income.” He then urged Germans to “look at the reality” of Germany’s presence in Afghanistan and […]
The attacks of Sept. 11 were a significant event: for the attacks in and of themselves; for what they brutally revealed in terms of international terrorism’s new ambitions; for their chain reactions, around the world and, in particular, in the countries that, whether due to solidarity or interest, entered the global war on terrorism alongside the United States. Among those nations, France immediately rallied to America’s side and, as a result, found itself, along with others, quickly dragged into a conflict that it had not sought: the Afghanistan War. Nine years since they arrived in Afghanistan, French troops are still […]
Beginning with the Iranian Revolution in 1979, the West has viewed the Middle East and North Africa primarily through the lens of radical fundamentalist political movements. That perspective has narrowed our strategic vision ever since, conflating Shiite with Sunni, evangelicals with fundamentalists, Persians with Arabs, Islamists with autocrats, and so on. But recent events in Tunisia and Algeria remind us that the vast bulk of history’s revolutions are fueled by economics, not politics. In this, the struggle for Islam’s soul is no different than that of any other civilization in this age of globalization’s rapid expansion. All of the world’s […]
The Obama administration still says it will begin withdrawing U.S. forces from Afghanistan in six months. But a recent visit to Afghanistan by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden raised questions about how long the U.S. military will actually stay there and some analysts say there are benchmarks that Washington and NATO should consider in determining the length of their mission.
The Obama administration has been transmitting a relatively clear set of signals regarding its policy toward Afghanistan ever since the strategic review was completed in December 2010: Progress has been made, but it is “fragile” and “reversible.” According to this argument, since U.S. and allied efforts are showing the first green shoots in terms of being able to train and deploy Afghan security forces that could end up holding territory on their own, it would be irresponsible to change course now. The current strategy must be given sufficient time to play out, even if that does not neatly dovetail with […]
At the heart of the U.S. war in Afghanistan lies a striking and unresolved contradiction. While the U.S. has sent approximately 100,000 troops to this impoverished, landlocked country to combat a fearsome local insurgency, the actual focal point of U.S. policy in the region largely revolves around protecting and stabilizing a country just across Afghanistan’s eastern border: Pakistan. It’s an ironic but not altogether surprising strategy. After all, Pakistan remains home to Osama bin Laden, his key lieutenants and other terrorist organizations intent on striking American targets. The country maintains a significant nuclear capability, and its ongoing conflict with India […]
On Monday, USA Today reported that the United States Air Force was increasing the size of its Afghanistan contingent in order to keep up with the dramatic expansion in the rate of airstrikes since Gen. David Petraeus took over command of the war effort. To some, the fact that Petraeus — the American military figure most associated with FM 3-24 (.pdf), also known as the counterinsurgency (COIN) manual — is responsible for increasing the use of airpower in Aghanistan represents a paradox. FM 3-24 takes a notably dim view of airstrikes, suggesting that they “can cause collateral damage that turns […]
The U.S. military is expected to withdraw from Afghanistan by 2014. But thousands of U.S. Marines will still deploy there within the next year to support the war. To prepare them, the Defense Department has introduced culture training programs at several military bases around the United States.