Is U.S. on the path to 'permanent war'?
November 24th, 2010
10:32 AM ET

Is U.S. on the path to 'permanent war'?

When the president decided to send more troops to a distant country during an unpopular war, one powerful senator had enough.

He warned that the U.S. military could not create stability in a country "where there is chaos ... democracy where there is no tradition of it, and honest government where corruption is almost a way of life."

"It's unnatural and unhealthy for a nation to be engaged in global crusades for some principle or idea while neglecting the needs of its own people," said Sen. J. William Fulbright, then chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in 1966 as the Vietnam War escalated.

Fulbright's warning is being applied by some to Afghanistan today. The U.S. is still fighting dubious wars abroad while ignoring needs at home, says Andrew J. Bacevich, who tells Fulbright's story in his new book, "Washington Rules: America's Path To Permanent War."

As the Afghanistan war enters its ninth year, Bacevich and other commentators are asking: When does it end? They say the nation's national security leaders have put the U.S. on an unsustainable path to perpetual war and that President Obama is doing little to stop them.

Read the full story from CNN.com's John Blake


Filed under: Obama
November 19th, 2010
10:14 AM ET

Biden: 'Take the training wheels off' in Afghanistan

While defending the military surge in Afghanistan after eight years of what he termed "neglect," Vice President Joe Biden said Thursday that Afghan leaders could soon be left on their own, whether they're ready or not.

"We had to say, 'Look, you've got to step up, man,'" Biden said Thursday on CNN's "Larry King Live."

"Let me tell you, we're going to start - Daddy is going to start to take the training wheels off ... next July, so you'd better practice riding."

Biden said that President Barack Obama charged him with reexamining the Afghan conflict soon after coming into office, and since then U.S.-led forces have made "significant progress against al Qaeda." He said that U.S. forces and officials have done a great deal to help the Afghan government under President Hamid Karzai, including working with Afghans to improve their governance and security capabilities.


Read the full story


Filed under: Biden • Decision: Afghanistan • Obama
November 18th, 2010
02:18 PM ET

US, NATO to be in Afghanistan beyond 2014 security handover

Even with serious questions about President Hamid Karzai's commitment to the military strategy in Afghanistan, NATO members plan to announce an enduring presence there beyond 2014, the new target date for handing off security control to the Afghans.

At its weekend summit, NATO members will tout a three-year plan to
transfer security responsibilities by 2014 to the Afghans, beginning early next
year on a phased, conditions-based timeline, NATO officials told CNN.

NATO members plan to offer a message of reassurance to Afghanistan that
the alliance will remain engaged after security control is transferred to
Afghan forces. NATO will endorse an "enduring partnership" with Afghanistan,
specifically focused on developing Afghan security forces and police, officials
said.
FULL POST

November 12th, 2010
05:20 PM ET

Draw down U.S. troops if Afghanistan progress lags, panel recommends

The United States should consider drastically cutting the number of troops in Afghanistan unless the current strategy starts to show signs of progress, a new report says.

The 98-page independent task force report, sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations, also says the United States should invest in a long-term partnership with Pakistan, but only if Pakistan takes action against all
terrorist organizations.
FULL POST

With Pakistani visit to the U.S., a chance to ease tensions
October 21st, 2010
10:35 AM ET

With Pakistani visit to the U.S., a chance to ease tensions

As the Obama administration begins three days of talks with Pakistani leaders, the two sides will seek to ease tensions over the muscular new U.S. strategy in the region.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, chief of the Pakistani army, are leading the their nation's delegation for meetings with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Cameron Munter, the next U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, also will join the talks.


Read the full story

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Filed under: Obama • Pakistan
Sources: U.S. finalizing aid package to help Pakistan fight extremists
October 19th, 2010
10:59 AM ET

Sources: U.S. finalizing aid package to help Pakistan fight extremists

The Obama administration is putting the final touches on a security assistance package totaling as much as $2 billion over five years to help Pakistan fight extremists on its border with Afghanistan, senior U.S. officials and diplomatic sources tell CNN.

The aid is expected to be announced later this week when Pakistani officials are in Washington to hold high-level talks.

The package aims to address Pakistan's insistence it does not have the capability to go after terrorists, and needs more support from the United States, the sources said. The aid will help the Pakistanis purchase helicopters, weapons systems and equipment to intercept communications.

Read the full story

October 7th, 2010
11:24 AM ET

War in Afghanistan: 9 years later

Nine years ago on October 7, the United States launched Operation Enduring Freedom along with the British military and other coalition forces in response to the September 11, 2001, attacks.

Nine years later, more U.S. troops than ever before are in Afghanistan as part of a U.S. President Obama-planned surge; Afghan President Hamid Karzai has formed a council to help negotiate with the Taliban and find a way for peace; and more than 2,100 U.S. and coalition troops have died.

In the United States, nearly six in 10 Americans continue to oppose the war in Afghanistan, the lowest level since the start, according to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll last week.

For some Afghans, the involvement of the United States remains divisive. In Kabul, the damage left over from past and present wars are daily reminders of a country long at the crossroads of history.

• Year-by-year: Nine years of war in Afghanistan
• Intel officers: No end in sight for war on terror
• First living Medal of Honor recipient since Vietnam

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Filed under: Casualties • Obama • Taliban • Troops
October 6th, 2010
02:41 PM ET

Woodward on Afghanistan

CNN's John King interviews journalist Bob Woodward on the president's management of the war in Afghanistan.

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Filed under: Obama • Understanding Afghanistan
October 6th, 2010
02:20 PM ET

White House report critical of Pakistan's activity against militants

Despite repeated Obama administration claims in public that
Pakistan is working hard to crack down on militants, a private White House
review uses unusually tough language to suggest the ally is not doing nearly
enough to confront the Taliban and al Qaeda, according to a copy of the report
to Congress obtained by CNN.

The report notes that from March to June, the Pakistani military
"continued to avoid military engagements that would put it in direct conflict
with Afghan Taliban or [al Qaeda] forces in North Waziristan. This is as much a
political choice as it is a reflection of an under-resourced military
prioritizing its targets."
FULL POST

August 17th, 2010
10:34 AM ET

Poll: U.S. opposition to Afghan war at all-time high

Unpopularity with the war in Afghanistan reached an all-time high in CNN polling with 62 percent saying they oppose it, according to a new CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey. Moreover, confidence in the Afghan government is low. Seven in 10 Americans are not confident that Hamid Karzai's government can handle the situation there. FULL POST


Filed under: Obama