This section features Critical Threats work on Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Russia. For further analysis on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, please visit the Institute for the Study of War.
IN THIS SECTION
The military commander in Afghanistan, General Joe Dunford, has said that he needs 10,000 US troops to accomplish the missions the president has said he wants to accomplish after this year. That number is probably half of what is actually required, by our estimates, but enough to keep options open for the next president.
Washington is full of leaks that the Obama administration is planning to end America's military presence in Afghanistan in 2016. And Congress has already slashed U.S. financial assistance to the fifth-poorest country in the world.
In Russian President Vladimir Putin’s New Year’s address, he promised to keep up the fight against terrorists in Russia’s North Caucasus until “their complete destruction.” With the Sochi Winter Olympics less than a month away, however, it is becoming increasingly evident that Putin has bitten off more than he can chew.
A strategic partnership with Afghanistan, underwritten with aid and with troops, along with continued engagement with Pakistan, is the only hope for securing American interests and the safety of Americans in this region.
A weak strike is more in line with U.S. interests than a refusal to strike or, worse, congressional action blocking any attack. Not just U.S. credibility but also the will of the Syrian opposition is at stake.
Reasonable people can disagree about the extent to which President Obama’s proposed “limited strike” will secure American interests, but not about whether the interests are real or vital.
Sequestration has done material harm to America’s national security at a dangerous moment. The United States is putting itself, its allies, and the world order that serves America so well at great risk in a fit of absentmindedness. It is past time to start paying attention again to the consequences of this policy on our security.
Announcing a minimal post-2014 military presence will make any sensible counterterrorism strategy impossible. It would repeat the mistake made after the Soviet withdrawal of imagining that Afghanistan no longer mattered to American security.
President Obama’s decision to withdraw another 34,000 troops from Afghanistan over the course of the next year is unwise.