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    Getting the Facts Straight on the Taliban

    The relationship between the Taliban and al-Qaeda was one of the hot topics of Monday night’s presidential debate. Candidate Ron Paul downplayed the dangers of the Taliban, declaring the “Taliban used to be our allies when we were fighting the Russians… The al-Qaeda wants to come here to kill us. … More

    Taliban Prisoner Release A Premature, Dangerously Naive Move

    The British newspaper The Guardian has reported that the U.S. has agreed in principle to release high-ranking Taliban officials from Guantanamo Bay in return for the Afghan insurgents’ agreement to open a political office in Qatar. If true, this would demonstrate that the Obama Administration is dangerously naïve about the … More

    Morning Bell: Biden Says Taliban Is Not Our Enemy

    On a Saturday in late October in Kabul, Afghanistan, a car carrying explosives rammed into an armored U.S. military bus, killing 13 Americans, including five soldiers and eight civilian staff. In August, a Chinook helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan, killing 30 Americans. Who was responsible? The Taliban. And who … More

    Istanbul Conference: Lacking Substance

    Vague platitudes, rather than meaningful solutions, dominated last week’s international conference on Afghanistan held in Turkey’s capital, Istanbul. Conference participants, including Pakistan, Iran, India, China, and Russia, broadly affirmed their support for the sovereignty, unity, and territorial integrity of Afghanistan. But for countries like Pakistan that continue to support Afghan … More

    Afghanistan Report's Call for International Negotiator Unrealistic

    The recently released Century Foundation International Task Force report on Afghanistan titled “Afghanistan: Negotiating Peace” usefully sketches out the myriad issues surrounding the challenges of seeking an Afghan peace settlement involving the Taliban. However, the report’s call for a “neutral international facilitator” harkens back to the 1990s, when the United … More

    Guest Blogger: Americans Must Remain Vigilant as Terrorists Seek to Attack 'Soft' Targets

    In the past week, military excursions into the tribal regions of Pakistan targeted Islamist militants believed to have connections to a number of plots designed to strike at the European mainland. As more evidence comes to light, it becomes clearer that Islamist militants have been preparing to hit “soft” targets … More

    Take Off Rose-Colored Glasses when it comes to Taliban Reconciliation

    Before concluding that today’s New York Times article on Taliban outreach to Karzai means that an Afghan settlement is on the horizon, consider today’s other news from Afghanistan, which includes a suicide attack that killed the Deputy Governor of Afghanistan’s Ghazni province. The point is the Taliban may be reaching … More

    General Petraeus Lays out Clear Benchmarks on Afghanistan

    General Petraeus laid out clear-cut benchmarks that would indicate signs of progress with the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan in the lead up to the December review at an inter-agency meeting at the White House on Monday, according to today’s New York Times. In addition to the number of Afghan forces … More

    Missed Opportunities in the Oval Office

    Unfortunately, President Obama missed a valuable opportunity tonight to demonstrate that he is fully committed to success in Afghanistan. Instead he stubbornly reiterated his July 2011 withdrawal date. Obama rightly said Americans should not lose sight of what is at stake in Afghanistan and that the U.S. must prevent the … More

    Senate Hearing Cautions Administration on Timelines and Taliban Reconciliation

    “Can we improve the Afghanistan Government? Maybe. Can we do it by July 2011? No.” This statement came from Dr. David Kilcullen, an expert in counterinsurgency and former advisor to General Petraeus, during rigorous questioning at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) hearing last week titled, “Perspectives on Reconciliation Options … More