On September 15, the board of the Council for a Livable World and the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation endorsed the August 16th report from the Afghanistan Study Group. The report, entitled: A New Way Forward—Rethinking the U.S. Strategy in Afghanistan (available at www.afghanistanstudygroup.org), argues that the current U.S. strategy in Afghanistan is not vitally essential to U.S. national security, ensnares U.S. forces in a civil war, has costs of over $100 billion a year to counter an al-Qaeda presence in Afghanistan of less than 100 members and is counter-productive to regional stability.
The report calls for a recalibration of U.S. strategy by focusing on the following five recommendations:
1. Emphasize power sharing and inclusion: The report calls for a “fast track” peace process built on decentralized governance and power sharing among key groups.
- Downsize and eventually end military operations in Southern Afghanistan, and reduce the U.S. military footprint: The report argues that the U.S. presence radicalizes many Afghans and suggests a diminished troop presence there could yield significant security benefits.
- Focus security efforts on Al Qaeda and domestic security: The report calls for increased capability to target Al Qaeda operatives and other terrorist organizations.
- Encourage economic development: The report promotes economic development as a safeguard against increased international terrorism and drug trafficking, arguing that failed states are incubators for terrorism.
- Encourage regional stakeholders: The report calls for a multi-state diplomatic effort to promote Afghan neutrality and regional stability.
Please read the Afghanistan Study Group Report as well as the Council for a Livable World and Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation’s own statement on U.S. strategy in Afghanistan and share it with others.
In July of 2009, the Boards of the CLW and the Center adopted a position on Afghanistan calling on the Administration to provide a clear statement of objectives for the war and metrics that would show whether those objectives were being met.
To date, no such clear objectives have been publicly stated, except for a general notion of building a stable Afghanistan that cannot be used again by Al Qaeda as a base for planning and mounting attacks on the United States and its allies.
After nearly a decade of warfare that is currently costing about $10 billion per month with no clear path to ultimate resolution, and at a time when the U.S. Federal government must increase its involvement in fighting the most serious economic downturn since the great depression, and at a time when it is critical to prevent further slippage on the agenda of nuclear disarmament, it is time to change U.S.
policy in Afghanistan. We must shift the burden of building a stable society to the Afghans, and refocus U.S. attention on national security concerns of more direct impact on the lives of Americans, including stemming the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
The Boards of CLW and the Center endorse the new strategy proposed in the report of the Afghanistan Study Group.