With an Afghanistan policy review due next month, the Obama administration needs to decide whether the war in Afghanistan is succeeding and, if there is no progress, should think about starting to draw down troops earlier than July 2011, says Richard Armitage, the co-chair of a new CFR Independent Task Force Report. Armitage, who served as deputy secretary of State in the first George W. Bush administration, notes there are differing assessments of progress and signs pointing to a “conditions-based” withdrawal that will nonetheless mean a continued U.S. presence. He also points out that without Pakistan’s cooperation, U.S. efforts in Afghanistan will be stymied, but that until the U.S. makes its endgame objectives clear, “to the extent we say we’re going to be starting some sort of withdrawal in 2011, that feeds [Pakistan’s] feeling that we will run short of breath.”
There were several dissenters to the overall conclusions of the Task Force Report on U.S. Strategy for Pakistan and Afghanistan. Did that indicate a lively discussion within the committee?
It was a lively discussion–a discussion, speaking for Sandy [Samuel R. Berger, co-chairman with Armitage], and certainly for myself–that we found very energizing. We’re quite proud of the dissents. When you do a report like this, the purpose is to get a discussion. If the Congress and the public had a discussion like we had, maybe we’d have some consensus on where we’re going in Afghanistan.
This article was originally published by the Council on Foreign Relations. You can read the rest of the article here.
You can read exclusive content from Gateway House: Indian Council on Global Relations, here.
Copyright © 2010 by the Council on Foreign Relations, Inc.