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

Acknowledging America’s arrogance

When even the top US military officer worries Afghanistan is ‘deteriorating’, then a welcome dose of realism is in the air

Admiral mullen

When the highest-ranking officer in the US armed forces, Admiral Micheal Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, admits: “We hurt ourselves more [with Muslim nations] when our words don’t align with our actions… Our messages lack credibility because we haven’t invested enough in building trust and relationships, and we haven’t always delivered on promises,” it represents a rare but welcome insight from the military about US foreign policy.

“Each time we fail to live up to our values or don’t follow up on a promise, we look more and more like the arrogant Americans the enemy claims we are,” Mullen has written in the Joint Forces Quarterly. “We’ve come to believe that messages are something we can launch downrange like a rocket, something we can fire for effect. They are not. Good communication runs both ways. It’s not about telling our story. We must also be better listeners.”

Some Muslims, such as Haroon Moghul of New York University’s Islamic centre, optimistically greeted Mullen’s statement as a remarkable sign of change: “It shows a military that is critically thinking, and empowered to do so by a White House that seeks to develop effective strategies, not ideological categories and uncritical postures.” However, Aziz Poonawalla of Talk Islam, urges: “Fundamentally, the Obama administration needs to articulate a clear set of explicit, achievable goals for our military in [Afghanistan] – with a clear timeline for withdrawal.”

Indeed, a recent poll of Muslim countries revealed that actions speak much louder than President Obama’s eloquent words promising “mutual respect” and “partnership”. Despite Obama’s well-received Cairo address earlier this year, animosity towards the US “continues to run deep and unabated,” according to the Pew poll, especially in Pakistan, Turkey, Egypt and Jordan. The most obvious reasons for such anger include the attacks by predator drones in Pakistan and the recent reinforcement of 17,000 US troops to Afghanistan, which now brings the total number of US soldiers deployed there to 57,000.

Tragically, the US presence in Afghanistan has failed to end the flourishing illegal drug trade that bankrolls and nurtures the Taliban’s existence. Furthermore, corruption and tribal rivalry threaten the Afghan government’s democratic sovereignty, as witnessed by country’s recent election, which are being protested by both leading candidates as being riddled with fraud. Continue reading