Foreign Policy Blogs

FPA All Over Afghanistan

Foreign Policy Association has seemed to transform into Afghanistan Association as our website has recently produced a myriad of fascinating pieces on the Central Asian state. Here are three really worth checking out!

On FPA’s website’s main page, the Viewpoint series features an article by Mehdi Noorbaksh titled ‘Irreparable Mistake to Leave Afghanistan‘. Noorbaksh makes the case for a strong American presence in Afghanistan on both strategic and moral grounds. Here’s an excerpt:

Although the cost of the war both in money and blood has been very high and mistakes have been made in conducting the conflict in Afghanistan, this is the wrong conclusion to draw. Without American and NATO forces in Afghanistan, the Taliban can easily topple the Afghan government in Kabul. American engagement in Afghanistan can be defended by four assertions. Together, they constitute the foundation of an argument which is significant to be understood in the context of the American foreign policy and the principles that it should hold on to in the future.

B. FPA’s India blogger, Manasi Kakatkar-Kulkarni argues in a post titled ‘Growing Up In Afghanistan‘ that it is ‘crucial’ for India to develop a ‘comprehensive long-term Afghanistan strategy that fulfills its strategic and security needs, as also its global aspirations’. India’s present and future presence in Afghanistan will be a flashpoint in any American decision to either withdraw or stay and learning more about this growing South Asian giant’s views of the situation will be vital to understanding the current conflict. Kakatkar-Kulkarni offers one such view:

Afghanistan, and the U.S. exit from that country, are an opportunity for India to practice and fine the art of projecting power. It is an useful tool to have in the foreign policy business; however, India has sadly been unable to acquire it so far. Today it has the economic and military poweress in place to back such an attitude, and India should not let it go waste. It is time for India to mature as a player and take charge of its Afghan policy, no matter what the US does.

C. One of FPA’s most esteemed bloggers, Gail Harris of US Defense, recently attended and wrote about a DoD sponsored Bloggers roundtable with Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, the Commander of the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan. Gail reports on Caldwell’s sober, yet optimistic analysis on the state of the Afghan army and police forces. Though the Lt. Gen. Caldwell’s list of training requirements for the Afghan forces (quality training, education, ethos of loyalty) do not in themselves appear to be overly challenging, one can’t help but feel his job is one of the toughest NATO has ever faced. Here’s an excerpt from Gail:

General Caldwell said beginning in 2002 “the average raw growth was about 15,000 personnel in the Afghan National Army (ANA) and about 12,000 in the Afghan National Police (ANP)…These numbers were below the requirement to meet both the ANA and the ANP strength goals.”The trend has been reversed and both the ANA and ANP goals are currently three months ahead of schedule.
From the General’s perspective the biggest challenge is building a professional, self sustaining security force. To achieve this goal the training is focusing on three things, “leader development, literacy and addressing losses through attrition. General Caldwell says leadership is the most important element and training efforts are “focused on quality training, developing experience and providing appropriate education…dedicated to creating an ethos of service and loyalty. It is only when the leaders embrace a culture of service to others that the Afghan national security force will truly be professional force.”

Happy and safe voting to all Afghans ( or at least those who will have a place to vote) this weekend.