July 19th, 2010
09:51 AM ET

Security brief: Afghanistan- "Not worth it"

One of the most respected voices among US foreign policy experts says the Obama Administration’s Afghan policy is not working.

Richard Haass, President of the Council on Foreign Relations and a veteran of several US administrations, writes in the latest edition of Newsweek: “Continued or increased U.S. involvement in Afghanistan isn’t likely to yield lasting improvements that would be commensurate in any way with the investment of American blood and treasure. It is time to scale down our ambitions there and both reduce and redirect what we do.”

Speaking on CNN’s American Morning Monday, Haass said Afghanistan was now “a sponge for American resources and it is a distraction. We out to be thinking militarily about what we might have to do in North Korea or Iran where we really do have vital national interests.”

He added the scale of the mission in Afghanistan now amounted to nation-building.  “The Taliban, maybe 30, 40-thousand of them that they're going after , and this represents to some extent half the population of Afghanistan,” he said.

Haass proposed a much more targeted counter-terrorism approach – of the sort that was attributed to Vice-President Biden in recent internal discussions at the White House on Afghanistan. “We could have done in Afghanistan essentially what we're doing in places like Yemen and Somalia,” Haass said.

“We don't have 100,000 troops in those countries. We've got a few special forces there. We can target those terrorists or people who are supporting terrorists with drones, cruise missiles, special forces.”

“The Taliban share the same [Pashtun] ethnicity of half the population of Afghanistan. So Mr. Obama has essentially made the United States now a central participant in Afghanistan's civil war,’ Haass said.

A recent study by the respected Afghanistan Analysts Network argued that the Taliban’s influence and appeal extended well beyond Afghanistan’s Pashtun heartland.

Haass suggested a different approach to Afghanistan should include working directly with local leaders – bypassing the government in Kabul – and providing them weapons. President Hamid Karzai has resisted arming local militia, fearing it will revive “warlordism.”

He also suggested essentially a “truce” with the Taliban, allowing them control or influence over certain parts of the country if they renounce al Qaeda.

“We know you're going to come back in parts of the country, you have strong connections. If you don't bring back al Qaeda, if you don't undermine the rest of the country, then we won't attack you.”

But Haass supported the Administration’s focus on Pakistan.

“Pakistan has more than 100 nuclear weapons; it's host to the world's most dangerous terrorist organizations, he said. “The last thing we want is for Pakistan to go from a fragile state – which it is now – to a failed state. The United States is right to make sure Pakistan does not unravel.”

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced in Islamabad Monday a major trade and aid package for Pakistan, which will focus on developing its energy sector. The country is plagued by power shortages.

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soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. PH53

    Again the hipocracy, and injustice continues. The caucasian majority can go have a "war on terrorism" when our country is attacked, but the Palestineans cant defend themselves against the Isreali terrorists. Wow...what bull.

    July 19, 2010 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • veritas

      PH53, What is a Palistinian? Do some research on the history of the word. It is a recent invention to call the Arabs in that part of the world 'Palestinian'. You probably should say Arabs. Until fairly recently, the peoples there were called palestinian jews and arabs.
      Additionally, it is the 'Palestinians' who are the terrorists. Not the Israelis. The 'Palestinians' who attack Israel do not want a separate country.... They want to wipe the country of Israel off the map and kill all the Israelis. To pretend the 'Palestinians' only want to defend themselves is a lie.

      July 19, 2010 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Smith in Oregon

    I recall the notion 'floated' by the utterly corrupt and horrific former Vice President Dick Cheney that Iraq's Oil fields could pay America back for that war costs which Dick Cheney told Congress and the American people wouldn't cost more than 50 Billion dollars. Well over 1 Trillion American taxpayer dollars and thousands of America soldiers lives later, America discovers the utterly corrupt Republican administration of Bush-Cheney gave CHINA the majority of huge Iraqi Oil leases worth Trillions of dollars for mere pennys!!! Saddam had repeatedly refused to sell China any of it's Oil leases, it appears all along that giving China those Oil leases was a primary goal by Bush-Cheney. American taxpayers paid for those with their lives, blood, sweat and tears and got hosed by The Bush Family values which are utterly Evil and totally Disgusting!

    July 19, 2010 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. LANNY

    THE NUCLEAR WEAPONS THAT PAKISTAN HAS IS A REAL PROBLEM. IF WE LEAVE, THE TALIBAN WILL PROBABLY OVERTAKE THE COUNTRY, AND THEN HAVE THE WEAPONS, AND NO TELLING WHAT THEY WILL DO WITH THEM. WE WERE TOLD BY THE RUSSIANS, THEY FAILED TO SUBDUE THAT COUNTRY IN A 10 YEAR WAR. Pull our andpit Pakistan againt Iran.
    i IRAN WANTS A NUCLEAR WEAPON, tELL THEN WE CAN SEND VIA AIR A FEW DOZEN OF THE THOUSANDS THAT WE HAVE. iRAN IS AN ANT MESSING WITH AN ELEPHANT. iF THEY WANT NUKES, WE CAN SPARE A FEW ON THEIR CITIES. .

    July 19, 2010 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Mark

    These armchair diplomats are such idiots.
    9/11 taught us one never to be forgotten lesson: Fight them over there or fight them here. Because they will come back.
    What we should be doing is bombing the madrassas over the border in Pakistan who turn out tens of thousands of mindless jihad drones every year. These ignorant young men are taught nothing other than the Koran and religious hatred and then have bombs strapped to them to be sent out like sheep to the slaughter.
    If we wait until they are in Afghanistan to kill them we will never exhaust their supply. Kill them in their schools along with the mad mullahs who drum this crap into their head and deal with the problem at the source.

    July 19, 2010 at 9:38 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. an interested party

    why is it neccessary for us to turn afghanistan into a "free democratic society"? has it not yet been proven apparent that democracy is somthing that will not work in this country? why cant a differnt form of government be installed here, one that divides power to the different tribes of the reigon, or one that pushes more power to the top of the government? these seem like the types of governments that "work" in this area of the world. From the last nine years i have seen democracy stumble and fall to corruption and "civil war" in afghanistan, and it doesnt look like that is going to end anytime soon. Find a way to compromise with the tribal leaders and the taliban. Find a way to meet the most needs of the people. Yes this is hard to swallow, but the taliban are crazed fanatics, they dont seem to be stopping anytime soon, and in order to end this conflict, we may need to consider bringing them to the table when it comes to making policy and forming some type of government in the region.
    Allow the taliban to control areas of the country that invite them in. tell them to allow for basic human rights, if they dont want to then obviously we are left with no choice but to force them to, but give power to the tribal leaders in some form of coalition government. Because the point we are at, we are asking people of different ethnic backgrounds to trust one another...and lets face it the people in afghanistan are clearly not as open minded to this idea as others around the world are. they have no history of this and no experience with this... so give the differnt tribal leaders power, and bring them to the table to negotiate a plan that will work for them, for us, and for the stability of the reigon.

    July 20, 2010 at 2:15 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • AMERICAN PATRIOT

      U R A TERRORIZER, DEMOCRACY IS THE ONLY REAL GOV'T. NEXT THING U KNOW ULL BE ASKING THE GOVERNMENT TO ALLOW ALL THEM ILLEGALS TO TAKE ARE JOBZ

      July 20, 2010 at 2:20 am | Report abuse |
  6. Smith in Oregon

    It appears the Shadow Government in America and over America under the guise of 'Dept. of Homeland Security, DHS) has already decided to implement a plan similar to the Clinton plan used to carve up Iraq in the Saddam embargo era. Segments of Afghanistan would be alloted to the fighting faction representing Pakistan, another segment alloted to the fighting faction representing India and another to the Afghanistan people. Treaty's among the proxy nations and combatants and Afghan people (India, Pakistan, Taliban, Pashtun's Afghanistans) would be agreed upon and signed bringing a ceasefire and a expanded role for UN Peacekeepers in the region.

    China has already secured Billions of dollars worth of Afghanistan mineral leases which Bush-Cheney also provided to China with in Iraq after America has given thousands of her Son's and Daughters, Blood, Sweat, Tears and more than 1 Trillion taxpayer dollars in each of those two foreign Wars. Victory it seems for Bush-Cheney was making China even richer and more powerful than it normally would have been, who would have thought that when Bush sr. was the de facto attache' (ambassador) to Taiwan and operating with the CIA all those years?

    July 20, 2010 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse | Reply

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