Evaluating Progress in Afghanistan-Pakistan0

The Obama administration’s draft metrics for Afghanistan and Pakistan, as obtained by Foreign Policy.

SEPTEMBER 16, 2009

The goal of the United States is to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al-Qa’ida in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to prevent their return to either country in the future.

Background: During his March 27, 2009 speech announcing our new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, President Obama said “going forward, we will not blindly stay the course. Instead, we will set clear metrics to measure progress and hold ourselves accountable.” This paper outlines a process to fulfill that directive. The intent is to use this assessment process to highlight both positive and negative trends and issues that may call for policy adjustments over time.

Agreed Metrics: The supporting objectives of the Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy form the framework for evaluating progress. The indicators within each of the objectives represent a mix of quantitative and qualitative measures, intended to capture objective and subjective assessments.

Common Baseline: The ODNI provided a baseline assessment of the metrics on July 17, 2009 from which progress will be measured; this is our common start point.

Process: By March 30, 2010 and on regular intervals thereafter, the interagency will draft an assessment of progress in Afghanistan and Pakistan. As a check and balance on the interagency, a separate assessment will also be produced by a Red Team, led by the National Intelligence Council.

Objective 1. Disrupt terrorist networks in Afghanistan and especially Pakistan to degrade any ability they have to plan and launch international terrorist attacks.

Metrics: Please see the attached classified annex. Continue reading

Obama’s First 100 Days – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

national-obamaWajahat Ali, April 17-19

Originally Published in The National

President Obama flew gracefully and confidently – albeit experiencing some minor turbulence – through his first 100 days as he ambitiously donned the uniform of the multicultural Superman of the 21st century.


Obama, the biracial, Hawaiian born son of a Kenyan father and a White Kansan mother adorned with a multi-syllabic Arabic name, who sowed his oats from Indonesia to California, now emerges as the ideal aesthetic leader – and much hoped for redeemer – of this brave, new globalized world fragilely teetering towards potential calamity. 


Unfortunately, Obama’s hour glass only allows four years to remedy the paralyzing economic crisis at home and the smoldering fires of political and religious extremism abroad primarily fueled by the belligerent tone and myopic policies of George W. Bush’s

Trigger happy administration.


Most noticeably, Obama’s inclusive and humble rhetoric immediately sets him apart from his arrogant predecessor, whose indignant adherence to right wing fundamentalism and unilateral aggression contradicts Obama’s professed desire of mutual understanding, engagement and partnership. Unlike the profoundly anti-intellectual Bush, the Ivy league educated, former law professor Obama can thankfully name the 20 countries comprising the G20 Summit. Continue reading

America Must Fight for an Afghan Exit

Financial Times | February 1, 2009


It is certain that as one of its first actions, President Barack Obama’s administration will approve a military “surge” in Afghanistan come the spring. The question that needs to be decided is: a surge for what? On the answer will depend in large part the success or failure of the administration in the “war on terror” as a whole.

This is less because of Afghanistan itself than because of the impact on neighboring Pakistan – a country of critical importance to global security, where extremism is being gravely worsened by the war on its borders and the demands being placed on it by Washington. Continue reading

Why we’re failing in Afghanistan

A former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan asks: Do we have the political will to succeed?

addthis_pub = ‘coloradoindependent’; 
By Wendy Norris 12/15/08 1:47 PM
(Photo/SeaDour, Flickr)

(Photo/SeaDour, Flickr)

When it takes seven bone-jarring hours to drive just 90 miles over war-scarred dirt roads from Kabul to the troubled Helmand Province in southwest Afghanistan, the complexity of the intertwined U.S. diplomatic and military missions becomes clear pretty fast.As bullets flew to overthrow the Taliban-controlled government in 2001, a coalition of international diplomats, nongovermental agencies and the United Nations embarked on an ambitious but often disjointed and underfunded reconstruction process coordinated by a dizzying array of acronym-laden groups and a largely disinterested Bush administration.

“I don’t know if we didn’t have the understanding or we didn’t have the will. We’ve never resourced a war with civilians,” said Ronald Neumann, the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan from 2005-07, who spoke in Denver last week.

“The military went to war and the nation went to the mall,” said Neumann sardonically in a speech on the risks of declining U.S. diplomacy at a meeting of the Institute for International Education/Denver World Affairs Council. Continue reading

Obama’s Afghanistan Plan

James Joyner | November 11, 2008


During the campaign, Barack Obama repeatedly criticized the Bush administration’s handling of the war in Afghanistan.  Most notably, he argued that we had been distracted by the war in Iraq and had diverted resources to that conflict, which he opposed, that could better have been devoted to fighting al Qaeda and finding Osama bin Laden.  Now that he’s been elected, he’s about to become responsible for producing results.

A front page story in today’s Washington Post written by Karen DeYoung outlines plans gleaned from unidentified “Obama national security advisers” about how the new administration will handle this challenge.

The incoming Obama administration plans to explore a more regional strategy to the war in Afghanistan — including possible talks with Iran — and looks favorably on the nascent dialogue between the Afghan government and “reconcilable” elements of the Taliban, according to Obama national security advisers. Continue reading