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Posts Tagged ‘afghanistan’

Obama’s Impossible Choices on Iraq

June 16th, 2014


Iraq was a bold U.S. experiment in nation-building. It turned out to be a flop.

That’s what we’re learning as we watch what the United States achieved there evaporate after nine years of war, after nearly 4,500 Americans were killed, 32,000 wounded and $800 billion in U.S. taxpayer money spent.

When George W. Bush first ran for president in 2000, he expressed contempt for nation-building. It was a point he made in rally after rally. “I’m worried about the fact I’m running against a man,” Bush said, “who uses ‘military’ and ‘nation-building’ in the same sentence.”

But what were U.S. troops doing in Iraq four years later if not nation-building?

The U.S. military can do many things supremely well. They are all military things — like fighting wars, repelling invasions and providing security. But nation-building — the task that devolved upon them in both Iraq and Afghanistan — is political, not military. And politics is not something the military can do very well. Nor should anyone expect it to.

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How to end the war on terrorism properly

June 10th, 2013


Note: This piece was co-written with Christopher Preble, Vice President for Defense and Foreign Policy Studies at the Cato Institute.

In his speech on counterterrorism last month, President Barack Obama said something both profound and overdue – the war underway since 2001 should end, not just factually but also legally. Outlining his views, the president said he wanted to “refine, and ultimately repeal,” the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), the main legislative vehicle governing U.S. counterterrorism operations around the world. He also pledged not to sign laws designed to expand this mandate further.

But to make that goal a concrete reality, the president should have called for legislation repealing the administration’s authority for war – sunsetting the AUMF, which provides the legal authorization for our troops in Afghanistan, once combat operations there conclude at the end of 2014. Future counterterrorism operations can rely on the plentiful authorities the executive branch already has, including some that have been added since 9/11. And if this president – or any other in the future – needs greater war powers to deal with a threat, they can return to Congress and ask for specific, limited authorities tailored to address the future challenge.

The fact is that while there are other ways the AUMF could be usefully altered, a clean repeal has significant advantages. Read the rest of this entry »

The Death of the Bush Doctrine

June 27th, 2011


This piece was originally posted on The Huffington Post.

The Bush Doctrine is dead. It was mortally wounded in Iraq. It finally expired in Afghanistan.

The doctrine was promulgated by President George W. Bush in his second inaugural address on January 20, 2005, when he said, “The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands.” That made it a matter of U.S. national security to turn other countries into democracies. Even to force democracy with guns and tanks, as we did in Iraq, and as we are trying to do in Afghanistan.

We’re now seeing growing impatience with Afghanistan in the Republican Party. “I think we have learned that our troops should not go off and try to fight a war of independence for another nation,” Mitt Romney said at this month’s Republican debate in New Hampshire. Jon Huntsman advocates “an aggressive drawdown” of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. “I’m not sure the fate of our country is going to be determined on the prairies of Afghanistan,” Huntsman said last week. Read the rest of this entry »

Pledge to America Fails National Security Test

September 28th, 2010

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This piece was originally posted on Huffington Post.

When Republicans unveiled their “Pledge to America,” they gave the country a worrisome glimpse of how they would govern if voted back into the majority. The national security portion of their plan (buried away on page 37 of the 45-page document) is full of small ideas that fail to address any of America’s immediate security challenges. Rather than prove they can govern, Republicans who adhere to the “Pledge” will fail the threshold question of American politics: Can you keep the country safe?

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Americans still trust Obama on Afghanistan

July 21st, 2010


This piece was originally published on Foreign Policy.

Recent polls showing pessimism about U.S. prospects in Afghanistan seem to suggest that Barack Obama has lost the United States’ support for the war there. However, general exhaustion from years of war and specific support for Obama’s Afghanistan strategy should not be so easily conflated. A careful reading of the polling data on Afghanistan shows that while the public is weary, they haven’t yet given up on the mission or Obama’s redefined strategy…yet.

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Bennett & Rosner: Democrats and National Security

June 3rd, 2010

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This piece was originally published in Politico.

Slightly more than 10 days ago, a U.S. airstrike killed Sheikh Said Al-Masri, Al Qaeda’s third in command. He was the highest level Al Qaeda operative to be “removed from the battlefield,” as the military puts it. The Wall Street Journal actually said in its editorial: “another success for the Obama administration.”

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