Recommended Reading

Top Billing! Andrew ExumCNAS Report:Leverage: Designing a Political Campaign for Afghanistan

Exum has a judicious and deftly played piece of analysis and policy advocacy here that takes as a starting point that the US has few options but to work with the regime of Hamid Karzai, whatever its flaws and previous American mistakes, and then offers his prescriptions for rebuilding that relationship. Exum advocates a strengthened and reorganized civilian agency presence via a “political campaign design”, a template borrowed from military planning and modified to suit the civilian components of the DIME spectrum.

“In the end, by having so vocally and materially committed to the Karzai regime, the United States and its allies are tied to its successes and failures. The goal, then, should be to maximize the former and minimize the latter through focused application of U.S. leverage,” writes CNAS Fellow and author Andrew Exum.  “Designing a political campaign minimizes the role luck plays in whether the United States and its allies are successful.”

By drawing on research conducted through hundreds of interviews with U.S. and NATO military officers and diplomats, policymakers and NGOs in Afghanistan, Exum offers recommendations to design an effective political campaign:1. Convene another strategic review to assess the civilian strategy, not the U.S. and allied military strategy, in Afghanistan. President Obama should ask the tough questions to his secretaries and envoys that he asked his military commander – General Stanley McChrystal – to answer in his fall 2009 review.

2. Build a functioning relationship with Hamid Karzai and demonstrate to the Afghan president that he has an enduring partner in the United States and its allies.

3. Use U.S. and allied leverage to press the government of Afghanistan to either hold elections for district governors or appoint competent governors from Kabul. Effective local governance is a prerequisite for U.S. and allied forces to institute aid and development projects that are essential to addressing the factors driving conflict and violence at the local level

Hat tip to Steve Pampinella. 

I disagree with continuing to hitch our war to Karzai for a number of reasons, but as the USG is going to continue down this path regardless, they might as well look at Exum’s recs to see how they might do so with greater returns on the dollars spent and blood shed.

The New Republic (Nicholas Schmidle)In a Ditch

Crazies 2.0 in Pushtunistan are here. This is not your Father’s Islamist radicalism.

It’s important to consider what Khawaja might have been doing in North Waziristan. The Pakistani army is apparently gearing up for an offensive there against the Taliban, akin to the ones conducted in Swat and South Waziristan last year. In his confession from captivity, Khawaja claimed that he was sent by two former ISI chiefs to broker a deal with the militants, telling them that they’ll be spared if they simply aim their weapons towards Afghanistan, rather than on targets in Pakistan. It’s also been reported that Khawaja had arranged for the kidnapped British journalist to meet with Hakimullah Mehsud, the Pakistani Taliban leader rumored dead who has recently surfaced. That Khawaja, on either mission, would be kidnapped and murdered illustrates a profound evolution that’s occurred in Pakistan over recent years concerning the dynamic between the ISI and their one-time jihadi clients.

Bill Roggio  US pressures Pakistan to target North Waziristan

The Pakistani military has been reluctant to move into North Waziristan, citing concerns about its forces being overstretched due to offensives in neighboring tribal agencies, including South Waziristan, Arakzai, and Bajaur. But the real reason, US officials say, is that Pakistan is reluctant to move against the so-called “good Taliban” groups – those who wage war against NATO in Afghanistan and serve as jihadist depth against arch-enemy India.

Page 1 of 2 | Next page