From the archive, originally posted by: [ spectre ]


On Wednesday, January 30, 2008, the Center for the Study of the
Presidency released the Afghanistan Study Group Report in a special
event on Capitol Hill. Senator John Kerry (D-MA) and Senator Norm
Coleman (R-MN), Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign
Relations Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South and Central Asian
Affairs, hosted a joint release of this report, a report by the
Atlantic Council and a report by Dr. Harlan Ullman et al.

Afghanistan Study Group (ASG) – Background

“It is critical for the United States to provide additional political,
economic and military support for Afghanistan, including resources
that might become available as combat forces are moved from Iraq.” –
Iraq Study Group Report, Recommendation 18

The Center for the Study of the Presidency (CSP) was closely engaged
in the work of the Iraq Study Group. During the discussions of that
group it became more and more evident that Afghanistan was at great
risk of becoming “the forgotten war.” Participants and witnesses
pointed to the danger of losing the war in Afghanistan unless a
reassessment took place of the effort being undertaken in that country
by the United States, NATO and the international community.

In the spring of 2007, recognizing the importance of making policy
makers in Washington aware of the deepening crisis in Afghanistan,
Center President Ambassador David M. Abshire decided to establish a
smaller-scale study group. The Afghanistan Study Group’s work has been
conducted on a voluntary pro-bono basis under the auspices of the
Center for the Study of the Presidency. With the Iraq Study Group
experience in mind, this group attempted to work on a flexible and
agile basis to ensure that its work bears results as soon as possible.
For more focused work, the group also decided to center its analysis
on several key issues that its members identified as both urgent and
crucial for future success.
The group, co-chaired by Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering and General
James L. Jones, included prominent experts on the region and on
foreign policy. In addition to its working sessions, the group held
consultative sessions with: Under Secretary of State for Political
Affairs Nicholas Burns and Assistant Secretary of State for South and
Central Asia Richard Boucher; former United Nations Special
Representative of the Secretary General to Afghanistan, Ambassador
Lakhdar Brahimi; Ambassador of Pakistan to the United States, Mahmud
Durrani; Ambassador of Afghanistan to the United States, Said Tayeb
Jawad; and United States Ambassador to NATO Victoria Nuland (via video-
teleconference). (The views expressed in this report do not
necessarily reflect the views of any or all of these individuals.)

The goal of the Afghanistan Study Group is to provide policy makers
with key recommendations that will lead to a re-vitalization and re-
doubling of the United States and international community commitment
and effort in Afghanistan. The study group’s findings and proposals
will be shared with U.S. government officials, Members of Congress,
key officials in NATO and at the United Nations, and representatives
of the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as other
interested governments and parties. We hope that, taken together, the
work and commitment of all these parties in the months ahead will
ensure that the current war in Afghanistan is not forgotten, but won
for the safety and well-being of the people of Afghanistan, the region
and the world community.

For more information on the Afghanistan Study Group, please contact
Thomas M. Kirlin, Ph.D., Vice President for Operations, at
202-872-9800 or via e-mail.

NATO’s Not Winning in Afghanistan, Report Says
BY Ann Scott Tyson  /  January 31, 2008

NATO forces in Afghanistan are in a “strategic stalemate,” as Taliban
insurgents expand their control of sparsely populated areas and as the
central government fails to carry out vital reforms and
reconstruction, according to an independent assessment released
yesterday by NATO’s former commander.

“Make no mistake, NATO is not winning in Afghanistan,” said the report
by the Atlantic Council of the United States, chaired by retired Gen.
James L. Jones, who until the summer of 2006 served as the supreme
allied commander of NATO.

“Afghanistan remains a failing state. It could become a failed state,”
warned the report, which called for “urgent action” to overhaul NATO
strategy in coming weeks before an anticipated new offensive by
Taliban insurgents in the spring.

The Atlantic Council report was one of two strongly worded assessments
of the war in Afghanistan — both led by Jones — released at a
Capitol Hill news conference yesterday. The second was by the
Afghanistan Study Group, co-chaired by Jones and Thomas R. Pickering,
a former U.S. ambassador to Russia and other nations.

Jones said several steps are needed to “regain the momentum that
appears to have been lost” in Afghanistan: a comprehensive campaign
plan that integrates security and reconstruction work; the appointment
of a United Nations High Commissioner to coordinate international
efforts; and a new regional approach to stabilizing Afghanistan that
would include conferences with neighboring countries such as Pakistan
and Iran.

Progress in Afghanistan “is under serious threat from resurgent
violence, weakening international resolve, mounting regional
challenges and a growing lack of confidence on the part of the Afghan
people about the future direction of their country,” said the report
by the Afghanistan Study Group, created by the Center for the Study of
the Presidency, which was also involved with the Iraq Study Group.

“The United States and the international community have tried to win
the struggle in Afghanistan with too few military forces and
insufficient economic aid,” the report said. It highlighted the lack
of a clear strategy needed to “fill the power vacuum outside Kabul and
to counter the combined challenges of reconstituted Taliban and Al
Qaeda forces in Afghanistan and Pakistan, a runaway opium economy, and
the stark poverty faced by most Afghans.”

The study group said the United States should “decouple” Iraq and
Afghanistan to establish a clear distinction between the funding and
programs underway in the countries, which, it said, face different
problems. It also called on Washington to appoint a special envoy for

Violence has risen 27 percent in Afghanistan in the past year, with a
39 percent increase in attacks in the nation’s eastern portion —
where most U.S. troops operate — and a 60 percent surge in the
province of Helmand, where the Taliban resurgence has been strongest.

Suicide bombings rose to 140 in 2007, compared with five between 2001
and 2005, according to official figures. U.S. and other foreign troop
losses — as well as Afghan civilian casualties — reached the highest
level since the U.S.-led invasion overthrew the Taliban government in

Amid the rising violence, the Pentagon announced this month that it
would deploy 3,200 Marines to Afghanistan to help counter the expected
Taliban offensive.

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