Karzai's insistence that all U.S. raids on Afghan homes by such residual forces be stopped shows that Obama has simply redefined the word 'combat.' Counterterrorism missions do involve extreme danger and shooting people.
Many publications have advice columnists, but none has our old friend Colonel Manners (ret.), whose experience in military and surveillance matters is evident from his impressive CV (unfortunately, a classified document).
Complexities start multiplying for the United States ahead of withdrawal from Afghanistan, as on one side the situation is far from favorable for Washington in Kabul while on the other relatively safe NATO supply routes from Pakistan may face a closure.
It is very doubtful that the remnants of the anti-war movement have the steam or energy to force Obama into a rapid and total withdrawal, especially because few if any American soldiers are likely to die in the next couple of years.
I sit in the audience wishing Karzai would outline his country's path to peace. I think about the women and girls who will likely become caught in the crossfire of a conciliatory peace made to appease. I sit and picture a scene of deep peace, true peace, peace defined through stillness.
Humanitarian crises, sectarian clashes, and terrorism in Afghanistan will inevitably impact Iran. The Iranian government holds no illusions about Afghanistan's myriad of problems, nor is there any expectation that these will soon be resolved.
Building an equal relationship with Pakistan and Iran must be Afghanistan's top regional political strategy until there is visible, serious and honest commitment in support of peace efforts and lasting stability.
What's needed is an inclusive, political settlement -- with all stakeholders included -- that ends the fighting and stops the region from meddling, something we missed the mark on years ago. Until we do that, any Afghan security deal will remain elusive.
Immunity for U.S. troops post-2014 isn't going to happen. It's a political non-starter. No Afghan presidential candidate, queuing for the April 2014 elections, can support it, nor do the Afghan people want immunity for foreign troops.
What seemed inconceivable a decade ago -- the integration of the Taliban into Afghanistan's post-9/11 political process -- appears not only possible today, but probable.
The peace conference has been fraught with communication and more importantly structural misunderstanding on the part of both Taliban and U.S. negotiating teams which has caused rupture in the peace negotiating process.
The end game in Afghanistan becomes increasingly tortuous, so the world waits with bated breath on who is going to be Pakistan's next army chief.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai should take urgent action to fight child marriage and domestic violence or risk further harm to development and public health in Afghanistan.
U.S. aid should be provided to Egypt on the basis of more rigorous standards of transparency and accountability. Americans and the Egyptian people need to know exactly how the aid is being used and who benefits from the aid.
The best hope for resolving this deadly stalemate is to take the United States out of the equation. It is time to admit our continued military role in Afghanistan is counter-productive and there is little reason to keep American men and women caught in the crossfire.
Obama's determination to keep on the table the so-called "zero option" of a complete withdrawal of all American military forces from Afghanistan next year is not simply a bargaining ploy. There are policy reasons for a complete military departure the president could find persuasive.