Karzai Talks Security

In a joint news conference with U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates,Afghan President Hamid Karzai stated that Afghanistan is 15 to 20 yearsaway from being able to afford a modern, expansive military force.Gates says that he does not see that long of a time frame and hopesthat Afghan forces will be able to operate on their own in five years.Al Pessin reports from Kabul for VOA News.

Mullen Talks on Afghanistan

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen speaks withNewsHour’s Jim Lehrer after having spoken with troops that will deployto Afghanistan as part of President Obama’s new strategy. Mullen saysthat he stressed to troops that they should learn about Afghan cultureto try and best understand the people they are fighting alongside. Healso again stressed that the 2011 withdrawal date is simply a target.

Pakistan Central to Afghan Strategy

President Barack Obama’s plan to send 30,000 troops to Afghanistan bymid-2010 — with withdrawal plans for July 2011 — may provide someassurances to Afghanistan’s neighbors. Analysts say that a withdrawaldate is not necessarily the ideal situation, but will help givePakistan some idea of when an end may be in sight. VOA’s Ravi Khannareports on how a withdrawal date may be the key to a risky strategy.

The president and his national security team have outlined an ambitious strategy for Afghanistan. But if they hope to meet their July 2011 target date for the beginning of a U.S. drawdown, they will have to navigate some unavoidable roadblocks along the way. The first — and most pressing — is the continued weakness of the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Some commentators have written that the withdrawal of presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah from the second round of elections this past fall has cleared the way for Karzai — with U.S. support and aid — to begin necessary reforms. […]

Defense Secretary Robert Gates Talks Afghanistan with Jim Lehrer

NewsHour’s Jim Lehrer interviews Defense Secretary Robert Gates aboutthe new strategy in Afghanistan. Gates says that he has signeddeployment papers for the first wave of the 30,000 troops to leave in acouple of weeks. He also says President Obama’s 2011 exit date iscontingent upon the conditions on the ground and is not necessarilyfirm.

McChrystal Brings the New Policy to Troops

General Stanley McChrystal brings the new Afghanistan policy toofficers on the ground in Kandahar. In his presentation, the topcommander in Afghanistan said “I think it’s the end of the beginning.”He then proceeded to lay out President Obama’s plan to add 30,000 moretroops and to focus efforts on southern Afghanistan. Al Jazeera’sClayton Swisher reports on McChrystal’s message to troops.

Afghanistan Strategy Video Roundup

We collected a range of reactions to President Barack Obama’s new Afghanistan strategy rollout over at WPR’s video section that should be of interest: In case you missed it, here is Obama’s full speech from West Point. Afghans show skepticism in this Al Jazeera video. Jim Lehrer, David Brooks and Mark Shields examine the president’s speech in this video. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and conservative leader David Cameron get into a heated discussion in this video. Our video sectionis updated daily. I’ll highlight videos we post there from time to timeon this blog. Got a tip for where we […]

Afghans Skeptical of New Policy

Afghan civilians are skeptical of the strategy introduced by PresidentBarack Obama in a speech at West Point. A quick man-on-the-streetsurvey by Al Jazeera shows that Afghans believe that their country’sissues must be dealt with from within in concert with Islamic nationsthat they feel they can trust. A Taliban spokesman commented that moretroops will just mean a bigger target. David Chater reports for AlJazeera.

Obama Unveils His New Afghanistan Policy

After much anticipation, President Barack Obama has released his newAfghanistan strategy to the public. In a speech at the United StatesMilitary Academy at West Point, Obama rolled out his plan for a 30,000troop increase and plans for a 2011 pull out.

NewsHour’s Afghanistan Policy Speech Post-Mortem

The New York Times’ David Brooks and syndicated columnist Mark Shieldsdiscuss President Obama’s speech at West Point with NewsHour’s JimLehrer. Brooks says that Obama was reserved in his speech and presentsa war that is unique from past conflicts. Shields agrees and says thatthe choice of venue made the president’s words all the more somber.

The success or failure of President Barack Obama’s new Afghanistan strategy will depend on numerous international factors, from the contributions of Washington’s NATO allies to the performance of Afghanistan’s beleaguered government. However, few factors loom larger than Pakistan. Indeed, the Obama administration has conceded that unless Islamabad intensifies its efforts against Taliban and al-Qaida forces based in Pakistan, the Afghanistan plan will likely fail. Predictably, the U.S. government has renewed pressure on Pakistan to launch a more aggressive campaign against militancy within its borders. However, Washington has little credibility and leverage in Pakistan, and Pakistani mistrust of the United States […]

Brown Defends Troop Plan in Afghanistan

British conservative leader David Cameron clashes with Prime MinisterGordon Brown over troop commitment in Afghanistan. Cameron asked Brownpointedly when he expected there to be a decrease in British troops inAfghanistan. Brown responded by saying that he expected the balance ofcoalition forces and Afghan forces to shift in 2011.

President Barack Obama offered a well-articulated if somewhat hazy vision last night of his plans to stabilize the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan. The core idea is to increase foreign support for the Afghan government and security forces in order to allow them to develop the capacity to improve governance and confront the Taliban insurgency more independently. The basic problem with implementing this strategy is that the Afghan government and security forces continue to experience numerous difficulties. In addition, the administration’s other sought-after foreign partners are either leaving the field of battle or refusing to enter it. In order for […]