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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.

“It is time for Pakistan to go in there [North Waziristan] and gut the Taliban and al Qaeda once and for all,” a top US military intelligence official told The Long War Journal. “They are hitting us in Afghanistan and are trying to hit us at home, and this has to be stopped. Airstrikes alone won’t solve this problem,” the source said, referring to the attacks carried out by unmanned Predators against al Qaeda and Taliban leaders and camps in North Waziristan.

Pundita –U.S. to Pakistan: We’re really, really upset with you this time so we’ll have to give you more money

“There’s going to be enough here to trigger a policy debate,” predicted one senior official with access to U.S. intelligence on Pakistan and involvement in White House discussions about the bombing attempt. …What U.S. intelligence on Pakistan?

Cut to the sound of chirping crickets.

 Foreign Policy (Michael Innes)COIN confusion

Are COIN and CT “incompatible”? Are the terms “globalized insurgency and counterinsurgency” hopelessly muddled?

Now things not related to Pakistan or Afghanistan or terrorism…… 

Automatic BallpointReagan, Thatcher, and the ‘Tilt’ 

Falklands si, Malvinas no! 🙂

WIRED (Ryan Singell)Facebook’s Gone Rogue; It’s Time for an Open Alternative


The New Atlantis (Ivan Kenneally)The Technocratic American University

….The modern university’s mission to promote the rational autonomy of the individual is in tension with its charge to cultivate the virtues necessary for civic life. This conflict, between the rejection of philosophical authority and the concession to the need for moral authority, reflects modernity’s sanguine optimism regarding the coincidence of intellectual and moral virtue. In this respect, both the university and the modern theory out of which it was born take quite literally Socrates’ ironic identification of virtue with knowledge.

Joseph FoucheSaturday Night’s All Right For Linking

This saves me time of typing “hat tip”.

That’s it!

5 Responses to “Recommended Reading”

  1. Schmedlap Says:

    I read Exum’s piece a few days ago, revisited it again yesterday, and find it to be a typical CNAS product. This paper wouldn’t be taken seriously if written by someone at a lesser known institution and would probably earn low marks if handed in by a first year grad student. It ignores the fundamental weaknesses of our problems in Afghanistan, glosses over the biggest challenges, and proposes a vague solution built upon shaky assumptions, dreamed up by someone who seems incapable of thinking in terms of anything other than pop-COIN.

  2. Schmedlap Says:

    But, I will add that the graphic design is spiffy, though it makes the PDF kind of jump around when scrolling through the document. Kind of annoying.

  3. zen Says:
    Hi Schmedlap,

    Heh. But how do you really feel about it? 😉

    Unfortunately, with any white paper floated to the EOB, the most important strategic variables are a priori off the table with this administration, as well as with the previous one ( Pakistan as state sponsor of Taliban, KSA funding of Taliban, removing Hamid Karzai and getting a decent government in place). The only advice they will consider is how to do what they already want to do in a better, more politically acceptable and/or less costly manner. Exum wrote that kind of paper. We could write something on invading Pakistan or bugging out of Afghanistan or bombing someone into the stone age but it will be DOA as soon as it is published.
  4. tdaxp Says:

    It is striking how history is repeating itself here — Karzai is our Chiang Kai-shek: brilliantly adapted to local situations, but hooked into our system while not trusting it. I wonder how it will end.

  5. “….Diminishing U.S. options” « OnParkStreet Says:

    […] Pundita via Zen: “U.S. to Pakistan, We’re really, really upset with you this time so we’ll have […]

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