August 9th, 2011
10:29 AM ET

Chopper tragedy and dread of 'The Knock'

Editor's note: Rebekah Sanderlin is an Army wife, a mother of two and a freelance writer who lives near Fort Bragg, North Carolina. She writes the "Operation Marriage" blog about military family life.

I was barely through my first cup of coffee Saturday morning when my husband called. He's not deployed now, but had to spend Friday night training at Fort Bragg. He'd heard rumors about the helicopter crash in Afghanistan but didn't know any details. I quickly jumped on CNN.com and found the headline "Dozens of Americans dead," and my heart fell like an anchor.

Once together, my husband and I immediately began a roll call, anxiously suggesting names to each other of everyone we know who is deployed in Afghanistan, wondering if any of our friends might be dead.

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Filed under: Casualties • Opinion • Troops
May 10th, 2011
11:02 AM ET

Anderson: Leaner, meaner approach needed

Jon Lee Anderson of The New Yorker discusses his article on the U.S. struggle to win hearts and minds in Afghanistan.

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Filed under: Decision: Afghanistan • Opinion
May 9th, 2011
10:41 AM ET

Opinion: Is U.S. role in Afghan war obsolete?

Editor's note: David Frum writes a weekly column for CNN.com. A special assistant to President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2002, he is the author of six books, including "Comeback: Conservatism That Can Win Again," and is the editor of FrumForum.

The killing of Osama bin Laden raises many haunting questions. Here's the most important:

Has our mission in Afghanistan become obsolete?

To think through that question, start with a prior question: Why did we remain in Afghanistan after the overthrow of the Taliban?

The usual answer to that question is: To prevent Afghanistan from re-emerging as a terrorist safe haven.

There have always been a lot of problems with that answer. (For example: Does it really take 100,000 U.S. troops, plus allies, to prevent a country from becoming a terrorist safe haven? We're doing a pretty good job in Yemen with a radically smaller presence.)

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May 3rd, 2011
10:35 AM ET

Opinion: It's time to pull out of Afghanistan

Editor's note: Republican U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz represents Utah's 3rd Congressional District.

At the conclusion of the decade-long manhunt for the world's most notorious terrorist, U.S. military forces are receiving well-deserved credit for a mission accomplished. The elimination of Osama bin Laden was made possible by a strong intelligence operation and well-trained special forces units under the Joint Special Operations Command.

In the global war on terror, the combination of actionable intelligence and highly mobile special forces has proven most effective against an enemy that is not limited to a single geographic location.

Amid the worldwide celebration of bin Laden's death, we must recognize that the nature of this war does not require the placement of 100,000 troops in one country. It was not the 100,000 troops that took out bin Laden. We can bring many of those troops home and still effectively fight terrorism around the world.

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Filed under: Decision: Afghanistan • Opinion
February 17th, 2011
11:09 AM ET

Opinion: Myths about 'unwinnable' Afghanistan

The future of the war in Afghanistan is hotly debated around Washington. Hearings are promised - the latest from Sen. John Kerry's Foreign Relations Committee - as a growing number of reporters, lawmakers and activists wonder why we are in Afghanistan and what the United States can gain by remaining at war in this remote, conflict-scarred and presumably ungovernable nation.

Look more closely at the conventional wisdom on Afghanistan, however, and it is clear that some facts have been left out of the well-trod arguments about the "unwinnable" battle that has become America's longest war.

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December 17th, 2010
11:04 AM ET

U.S. must draw the line at pedophilia in Afghanistan


Editor's note: Amitai Etzioni is a sociologist and professor of international relations at George Washington University and the author of several books, including "Security First" and "New Common Ground." He was a senior adviser to the Carter administration and has taught at Columbia and Harvard universities and the University of California, Berkeley.

President Obama is reviewing, again, what we are doing in Afghanistan. He should order our diplomats and generals to stop turning a blind eye to the widespread sexual abuse of children.

At the time our troops helped liberate Afghanistan in 2001, pedophilia had been largely curbed by the Taliban. However, since then, some Pashtun men have have been abusing the new freedoms for which our young men and women are dying - to molest young boys.

This vile practice has been recently documented by an Afghan journalist who returned to his native country for public television's "Frontline."

The program starts with a flat statement: "In an Afghanistan ravaged by war and poverty, an ancient tradition has been secretly revived: Young boys sold by their families to wealthy merchants and warlords, taught to dance and entertain, and used for sex."

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Filed under: Obama • Opinion • Understanding Afghanistan
December 16th, 2010
03:42 PM ET

Opinion: Rethink 'fight then talk' in Afghanistan

Editor's note: Patrick Doherty is the director of the Smart Strategy Initiative at the New America Foundation in Washington.

Despite tangible military progress in Afghanistan in recent months, the success of the Obama administration's strategy for Afghanistan will be determined by the measure of political and economic progress it brings.

For the last two years, American strategy in Afghanistan has followed the framework of "fight then talk." Under this thinking, the Taliban needed to be weakened before negotiations would begin.

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Filed under: Decision: Afghanistan • Opinion
October 19th, 2010
11:10 AM ET

Opinion: Why U.S. can't find Osama bin Laden

Editor's note: Peter Bergen, CNN's national security analyst, is a fellow at the New America Foundation, a Washington-based think tank tank, and at New York University's Center on Law and Security. He's the author of "The Osama bin Laden I Know."

American taxpayers have forked over around half a trillion dollars to U.S. intelligence services since the 9/11 attacks, yet nearly a decade after al Qaeda assaults on New York and Washington, the American intelligence community still cannot answer the most basic of questions:

Where is Osama bin Laden? Where is his top deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri? And where is Taliban leader Mullah Omar?

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Opinion: U.S.-led drone war is self-defeating
September 30th, 2010
10:59 AM ET

Opinion: U.S.-led drone war is self-defeating

By Ken Ballen, Peter Bergen and Patrick Doherty, Special to CNN

Editor's note: CNN National Security analyst Peter Bergen and Patrick Doherty are members of the staff of the New America Foundation, a Washington-based think tank that looks for solutions across the political spectrum. Ken Ballen is president of Terror Free Tomorrow, a nonprofit institute that researches attitudes toward extremism.

For the United States there are few more strategically important places today than the tribal region of Pakistan, headquarters of al Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban, and also home to a syndicate of other militant jihadist groups from across Asia.

It is where Faisal Shahzad, who tried to blow up a car bomb in Times Square in May, was trained. So was Najibullah Zazi, the Afghan-American who plotted to explode bombs on Manhattan's subways in 2009. It is also the source of a good deal of the violence that is racking neighboring Afghanistan.

Yet this critical region is one of the most opaque places in the world; international journalists and aid organizations rarely venture there, there's little open dialogue because, until last year, most political parties were banned from operating there. As a result, the views of its inhabitants have largely been a mystery.

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Filed under: Civilian deaths • Drone strikes • Opinion