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A Plan B For Afghanistan

Posted by The Agonist on August 18th, 2010

From our partners at The Agonist

Aug 18 | Dan Froomkin | Huffington Post

There’s another way forward in Afghanistan.

Call it Plan B.

An ad hoc group of disillusioned foreign policy experts is offering President Obama a serious, well thought-out alternative to his current failing strategy there.

Their Plan B entails a dramatic reduction in the American troop presence, a mission focused on the minimal Al Qaeda threat rather than on trying to defeat the Taliban, and a peace process that leads to power-sharing.

“[T]he way forward acknowledges the manifold limitations of a military solution in a region where our interests lie in political stability,” says the forthcoming report from the Afghanistan Study Group. The group of 40 scholars, former officials and activists was assembled by Steve Clemons of the New America Foundation.

“The United States should by no means abandon Afghanistan, but it is time to abandon the current strategy that is not working,” the report concludes. “Trying to pacify Afghanistan by force of arms will not work, and a costly military campaign there is more likely to jeopardize America’s vital security interests than to protect them. The Study Group believes that the United States should pursue more modest goals that are both consistent with America’s true interests and far more likely to succeed.”

Patrick Cronin, a South Asian expert at the Center for a New American Security and a member of the study group, calls the report an antidote to mission creep.

“There’s no significant Al Qaeda presence in Afghanistan today, so the original purpose has largely dissipated,” Cronin told the Huffington Post. By contrast, he said, American interests do not require the military defeat of the Taliban. Worse than that, “this strategy is actually being counterproductive for our interests.” more

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