Partial progress on U.S.-Afghan front
U.S. Marines look out over the Helmand River in October 2010 in Kajaki, Afghanistan.
April 23rd, 2012
04:07 PM ET

Partial progress on U.S.-Afghan front

Editor's Note: Max Boot is the Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Senior Fellow for National Security Studies, Council on Foreign Relations. This is a CFR First Take.

By Max Boot, CFR.org

Afghanistan is facing a crisis of confidence in its future. In 2014, the only president the country has known in the post-Taliban era, Hamid Karzai, is due to leave office; there is no front-runner to succeed him and it is not clear whether it will be possible to hold an honest and secure election. More significantly, that same year, the bulk of the Western troops, currently 130,000 strong (including 90,000 Americans), are also supposed to depart. The Taliban, meanwhile, has been weakened, but remains secure in its Pakistan redoubts. Whether the Afghan National Security Forces will remain strong enough to fend them off largely on their own remains unknown. Many Afghans fear the answer is no. That is why home prices in Kabul are declining, capital flight is increasing, and there is growing talk of emigration among the country's elites.

Will the signing of a U.S.-Afghan security partnership agreement, announced Sunday, dispel those doubts? Not likely. To be sure, it is good step forward. That the American and Afghan governments were able to overcome their differences, especially on the controversial issues of "night raids" and detentions of Afghan suspects by U.S. authorities, is certainly positive. That the United States is promising to remain committed in Afghanistan to some degree at least until 2024 is another vote of confidence in the country's future. But much remains unknown about the American commitment.

If the United States were to promise to keep 30,000 troops in Afghanistan post-2014 and, in cooperation with its allies, to fund the Afghan forces at their soon-to-be-reached level of 350,000 personnel indefinitely, that would be one thing. But if there are to be only, say, 5,000 U.S. advisers in Afghanistan post-2014 (no actual figure has been decided on yet), and if funding levels for the ANSF are going to be cut, forcing a reduction of the force down to just 230,000 personnel (as currently envisioned in plans that call for cutting ANSF funding from $6 billion a year to $4.1 billion a year) that's another thing. Afghans–and Americans–don't know which policy Washington will pursue, so there is understandable concern about the future.

To allay those concerns, the Obama administration will have to offer more specificity about the nature of the long-term U.S. commitment to Afghanistan. Of course, no president can compel actions on the part of his successors or future Congresses, but there are examples of Washington making long-term foreign policy commitments and sticking to them–whether the deployment of troops in Western Europe after World War II (where some still remain), or the provision of foreign aid to Egypt and Israel under a formula dictated by the Camp David Accords (followed to this day). Until it includes those kinds of specific pledges, the U.S. commitment to Afghanistan's future will remain more rhetorical than real–and fears about Afghanistan falling apart after 2014 will continue.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of Max Boot.

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Topics: Afghanistan

soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. Joseph McCarthy

    Here goes the right-wing news media again, belly-hooing just how "successful" our troops have been in Afghanistan!!!! It would be great if the Communists were biding their time, just waiting for the opportune moment to take over that country again and push all the foreigners out of there. In fact, they should have won there back in 1979 before Babrak Karmal called in the Russians!

    April 23, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Reply
    • Marine5484

      Well put, Joseph. How true that is!

      April 23, 2012 at 5:17 pm | Reply
    • actually winning

      Take this from someone that is taking ground from the Taliban. We are making progress in Afghanistan. Very much so every day. The problem in the begining was we did not understand the country as men on the ground. We just thought we could kill all the Taliban(which we have been very successful at) and they would all go away. Now we understand the principal of holding the ground and that is why you see the increase over the past few years of building the ANSF. We are making ground there, all we need is people such as yourself to try to support the government and the military instead of trying to demoralize it. Why don't you try demoralizing the Taliban for a change.

      April 28, 2012 at 11:15 am | Reply
  2. 100% ETHIO

    The World never been a better place, and will never be, since WWI until its end.
    Whenever it seems no war, within a short period of time, people are using that time to create new Weapons, purchase weapons and stockpile Weapons. Either to take revenge or to start a fresh War.

    What will the World expect to see the worst, that never been seen before?
    Is it the unexpected Planets collide?
    Is it the Oceans explosion that will swallowed all the Earth's soils?
    Is it a new Weapons that has been created and hidden or will be created and never been assumed by many people, and accidentally used and the damage that will cause will be much higher than a million Nuclear Warheads?

    We know, human becomes evil. Don't we?

    April 23, 2012 at 5:22 pm | Reply
  3. Rabbi

    As long as Israel is protected, all is well.

    What stupid Americans seem not to understand, is that Jews are chosen people.

    We will reap the rewards of our faithful service to Yahweh.

    The goyim of this world should be happy to fight over the scraps that we Jews throw from table.

    Israel will reign supreme over earth, and anybody challenging that assertion will be conquered, with the help of US military.

    You people may not like us Jews, but you WILL learn to fear us.

    If a few of you must die to save a few of us....that's a bargain I can live with. Your own nations agree with me on this.

    Your sacrafices are necessary to ensure the survival of the only democracy in the middle east. Be happy.

    April 23, 2012 at 6:45 pm | Reply
    • Thor

      O my god...

      You just made me hate Israel...

      I used to love Israel.....

      April 23, 2012 at 7:04 pm | Reply
    • Timesten

      What gives you the right to say this.? Where does it say all of this in your books?

      April 24, 2012 at 8:19 am | Reply
    • DilatedPupils

      That's where you're wrong Rabbi, if you think the creator of the Universe would choose a bunch of goat herding yokels in the Bronze Age...that's exactly where you're wrong. If there is a God at all, I'm sure it would be disgusted with your nationalism...a characteristic a creator of all things would not possess.

      April 25, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Reply
    • Dawn

      I don't think you are actually Jewish. From what I have heard about the beliefs that Jews have is that they do not think that others are automatically condemned because they are not Jews. You are obviously just trying to spread hate to Jews and Non-Jews alike. Real nice. Find something else to do.

      April 25, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Reply
      • ✠ RZ ✠

        Bang on the money Dawn. You tell this Rabbi from Hezbollah like it is!

        April 25, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • Pamela P.

      Your comment made me sick, Jews are no more important to the world than any other people. Be greatful for those who protect you, instead of talk down upon them. God is a loving caring being, who loves all his creations, not just the JEWS! Go back to school and relearn Hebrew so you can actually understand your scriptures fool!

      April 28, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Reply
    • Buy your freedom from US

      Why do we let a religious organization so far into our politics that support a foreign country more then our own? For being a troll, Rabbi is actually not far from the truth. Here in US we have numerous Jewish sectors that spread their teachings to every corner. Republican Jewish Coalition to which even Mitt Romney attended and stated that he will support Israel. Michelle Bachmann once said "...if the United States fails to stand with Israel, that is the end of the United States." They definitely hold a lot of weight in our Gov, makes you think now, doesn't it?

      April 29, 2012 at 8:58 pm | Reply
  4. j. von hettlingen

    China and Russia should contribute to funding the Afghan forces as well. Both are better off to have a stable Afghanistan.

    April 24, 2012 at 3:18 am | Reply
    • j. von hettlingen

      China complains about Islamist extremists on its western border and Russia bemoans the influx of heroin from Afghanistan.

      April 24, 2012 at 3:20 am | Reply
    • j. von hettlingen

      Governments in the Gulf States, Delhi, Tokyo and Islamabad have shown their support. Tehran hasn't been asked.

      April 24, 2012 at 3:29 am | Reply
  5. Yup

    Real smart.....you know where just training an army that is going to fight us in the future anyway

    April 24, 2012 at 9:53 am | Reply
  6. ItsStillAShltHole

    It's still a shlt hole.

    April 24, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Reply
    • Joseph McCarthy

      If that's true, then why do the right-wing thugs in Washington want it so much? I say give back to the their home grown Communists!!!

      April 24, 2012 at 6:02 pm | Reply
  7. Chris

    So we get to stay in Afghanistan forever then? If I may be so bold, why? To fight terrorism? We can do that far more effectively by not making ourselves a target with so many foreign interventions, not to mention good intelligence work to thwart plots. That would cost far less money and far fewer lives (both American and foreign). To improve the lives of the Afghani people? Oh yes, look at just how much better their lives are now! A corrupt, often brutal government, over a decade of warfare and civilian deaths, an economy that still sucks just as hard as when we came in, and foreign troops on their soil who seem to have trouble respecting their culture. Clearly we've improved the lives of the Afghani people. :/

    Let's be honest here, all that's happening here is we're perpetuating the death of Afghani civilians (and often times directly causing it ourselves), not making the country any better, and making our own country poorer and less free (the War on Terror is really a war on our civil rights). There's no reason we should stay in Afghanistan. Let's get out now and let the course of Afghani history from here to be decided by Afghanis.

    April 25, 2012 at 9:46 am | Reply
  8. realy

    we have no business in Afpakasand .... Earth is not USA's to run, exploit, craft, change. Let's work on not screwing up the USA. USA needs work and fixed.

    April 26, 2012 at 4:57 pm | Reply
  9. waqar khan

    Living in fools paradise,please look after your own house of cards called the continental US,with occupy Wall Street calls being raised every day and grand ponzi scheme of your entire economy,its time to take home all your GIs with bag and baggage.

    April 27, 2012 at 9:19 am | Reply
  10. ronnie simmons

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    April 28, 2012 at 3:49 am | Reply
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    June 5, 2012 at 8:48 pm | Reply

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