Richard Haass In Newsweek: Rethink Afghanistan Because Nation Building Is Not Working And We're Not Winning
Politico's Mike Allen reports in his Playbook today that the new issue of Newsweek will feature a major cover story by Richard Haass called "Rethinking Afghanistan: We're not winning. It's not worth it. Here's how to draw down in Afghanistan."
The article is set to be published on Sunday.
Haass, a well-respected voice on foreign affairs who presides over the Council on Foreign Relations, argues that the Afghan war as it's being prosecuted today is indeed a war of President Obama's choosing, playing off the past remarks of RNC chairman Michael Steele that caused a storm of controversy.
In an excerpt obtained by Allen, Haas writes,
GOP chairman Michael ... Steele's critics are the ones who are wrong: the RNC chair was more correct than not on the substance of his statement, if not the politics. The war being waged by the United States in Afghanistan today is fundamentally different and more ambitious than anything carried out by the Bush administration. Afghanistan is very much Barack Obama's war of choice, a point that the president underscored recently by picking Gen. David Petraeus to lead an intensified counterinsurgency effort there. After nearly nine years of war, however, 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. ... The war the United States is now fighting in Afghanistan is not succeeding and is not worth waging in this way. The time has come to scale back U.S. objectives and sharply reduce U.S. involvement on the ground. Afghanistan is claiming too many American lives, requiring too much attention, and absorbing too many resources. The sooner we accept that Afghanistan is less a problem to be fixed than a situation to be managed, the better.
Neoconservatives, led by Bill Kristol, called on Steele to resign his chairmanship of the RNC after he questioned the mission in Afghanistan and cast the war as largely unwinnable: "The one thing you don't do is engage in a land war in Afghanistan, alright, because everyone who's tried over a thousand years of history has failed."
The Newsweek cover echoes the efforts of Brave New Films. Director Robert Greenwald has been urging the public and policymakers to draw down the Afghan war with a series of video documentaries entitled "Rethink Afghanistan." Scroll down to watch the latest segment.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton headed to Afghanistan today for a conference in Kabul as part of efforts to refine the goals of the war. Worries about the conflict continue to grow as more American and NATO troops pour into the country after nearly nine years of fighting with no end in sight.
The AP reports:
At the Kabul conference, she will renew Washington's commitment to support Afghan President Hamid Karzai's government, but press him to follow through on reform pledges he made earlier this year.
Richard Holbrooke, President Barack Obama's special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, has said the conference "will be a very important international demonstration of support" for Karzai and his administration.
But Holbrooke acknowledges concerns that the war and the reconstruction effort are not going as hoped or planned.
He told Congress this past week that "there are significant elements of movement forward in many areas, but I do not yet see a definitive turning point in either direction."
Last month was the deadliest of the war for international forces: 103 coalition troops were killed, despite the infusion of tens of thousands of new U.S. troops.