U.S. Strategy for Pakistan and Afghanistan

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Council on Foreign Relations, 2010 - Political Science - 98 pages
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It is now nine years since the United States first went to war in Afghanistan. The rationale for doing so in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks was clear. Now, however, the United States has embarked on a different and considerably more ambitious undertaking in Afghanistan that affects, and is affected by, the complex political currents of Pakistan and its border regions. It is not clear that U.S. interests warrant such an investment. Nor is it clear that the effort will succeed. This task force sought to identify U.S. interests and objectives in Pakistan and Afghanistan, assess existing policy, explore the potential of alternative strategies, and make recommendations for future policy. The task force offers a qualified endorsement of President Obama's approach to the region, including the expansion of U.S. assistance to Pakistan, the surge of military forces in Afghanistan to roughly one hundred thousand, and the commitment to begin drawing down those forces in July 2011. Yet the task force also highlights a number of potential problems with the policy, emphasizing Pakistan's tolerance of and support for dangerous terrorist groups, weak state institutions, contentious relations with India, and nuclear weapons. The task force recommends easing U.S. trade restrictions on Pakistani textile exports, assisting a rapid recovery from the floods, deepening an ongoing dialogue on nuclear issues, and increasing the military's capacity to defeat militants on the battlefield. In Afghanistan, the task force notes that the Obama administration will need to find a way to address the government's weakness, corruption, and political division; determine the terms of reference for negotiations with the Taliban; increase the quantity and, even more, the quality of Afghan security forces; and encourage the development of Afghanistan's economy while decreasing the production of drugs.

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About the author (2010)

Richard L. Armitageis president of Armitage International. He served as deputy secretary of state to President George W. Bush.

Samuel R. Berger is chairman of the Albright Stonebridge Group. He served as national security adviser to President Bill Clinton.

Daniel Markeyis senior fellow for India, Pakistan, and South Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations.