August 3rd, 2010
09:14 AM ET

Opinion: Don't give Obama blank check on war

Princeton, New Jersey — Despite all the questions surrounding the war in Afghanistan, congressional Democrats have not challenged the administration's policies since President Obama announced a surge of troops in 2009.

The release of classified documents about the war by the website WikiLeaks seemed to have no impact on Capitol Hill. The same week that the documents were released, the House approved legislation with almost no debate that will provide tens of billions of dollars for the war effort. ...

But Democrats who have doubts about the war can't afford to be silent. When Congress doesn't publicly ask tough questions of the White House, poor decisions have often ensued.

The decision over funding Afghanistan came one week before the the 46th anniversary of the passage of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution on August 7, 1964.

Read more from Julian E. Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University, who says a look back at the Gulf of Tonkin incident provides a cautionary tale for today's Afghan war, and that Congress must closely scrutinize a president's decisions on war strategy.

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Filed under: Obama • Voices • Your View
July 27th, 2010
07:43 AM ET

Opinion: Afghanistan needs more than conferences

Editor’s Note: Abbas Daiyar began his blog, Kabul Perspective, last year to look at issues in Kabul and around the world. He has worked with newspapers in Pakistan and reported for news agencies in the past and is now a member of the editorial board of the independent Daily Outlook Afghanistan newspaper in Kabul. The opinions expressed in this guest blog are solely those of Abbas Daiyar.

The one-day Kabul Conference concluded last week with reiteration of promises made by the international community. There was nothing very new - except the fact that insurgents could not succeed in firing any rockets that day in Kabul, contrary to previous such events. Though the conference was given much coverage in the international media, Kabulis didn’t have any expectations about the meeting. Heavy security prevented any untoward incident and foiled some plans by those arrested a day before the conference. FULL POST

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Filed under: Kabul conference • Karzai • Voices • Your View
July 26th, 2010
03:34 PM ET

Opinion: WikiLeaks files will complicate war

The mother lode of ground-level raw intelligence from the Afghan war disseminated by WikiLeaks may ultimately bring about some good. In the short term, however, it will almost surely further undermine the U.S.-led search for stability.

Sifting through some of the 92,000 records is likely to strike an informed reader that there is nothing here that fundamentally alters his judgment about the war so much as it provides a level of granularity often missing from daily news reports.

Indeed, almost every issue has been previously reported in major news outlets, albeit with perhaps less authority than is permitted by these electronic records.

Read the full Opinion from Patrick Cronin, a senior adviser and senior director of the Asia-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security.

Filed under: Voices • WikiLeaks • Your View
July 26th, 2010
10:42 AM ET

Your view: Are the documents a national security threat?, a whistleblower website, published on Sunday what it says are about 76,000 U.S. military and diplomatic reports about Afghanistan filed between 2004 and January of this year. (15,000 more will be added after editing out names to protect people.)

The United States "strongly condemned" their release, Pakistani officials dismissed the contents as lies, and the Afghan government expressed amazement.

National Security Adviser Gen. James Jones issued a statement Sunday calling the documents' release "irresponsible." "The United States strongly condemns the disclosure of classified information by individuals and organizations which could put the lives of Americans and our partners at risk, and threaten our national security," the statement said.

Julian Assange, the founder of the website, denies that WikiLeaks has put troops in danger. "There have been prosecutions because of material being on WikiLeaks. There have been legislative reforms because of material being on WikiLeaks," he said. "What has not happened is anyone being physically harmed as a result." But he said he hoped his website would be "very dangerous" to "people who want to conduct wars in an abusive way."

What do you think? Some have praised the site as a beacon of free speech, while others have criticized it as a threat to national security. Should the documents be posted? Why or why not? Add your comment below.

Filed under: WikiLeaks • Your View
July 21st, 2010
07:14 AM ET

Opinion: Don't let obstacles block Afghan peace

Gen. David Petraeus, the new commander of NATO troops in Afghanistan, has called for labeling the leaders of the insurgent Haqqani network as terrorists.

I've met Gen. Petraeus only briefly, and I am convinced that he is not trying to pull another McChrystal, to push the White House to become even more deeply mired in the war in Afghanistan. Hence the only way one can interpret the troubling news that he wants to brand the insurgent group with the terrorist label is that he has the support of his civilian superiors for such a move.

Read more of the opinion of Amitai Etzioni, a professor of international relations at George Washington University and the author of several books, including "Security First" and "New Common Ground."

Filed under: Voices • Your View
July 19th, 2010
08:13 AM ET

Election campaigning in Afghanistan

Editor’s Note: Abbas Daiyar began his blog, Kabul Perspective, last year to look at issues in Kabul and around the world. He has worked with newspapers in Pakistan and reported for news agencies in the past and is now a member of the editorial board of the independent Daily Outlook Afghanistan newspaper in Kabul. The opinions expressed in this guest blog are solely those of Abbas Daiyar.

More than 2,500 candidates are running for the 249 seats of Afghanistan’s lower house of parliament, Wolesi Jirga, elections on September 18. About 400 women, mostly from Kabul and provincial capitals, are also in the race. The campaign is in full bloom in the capital Kabul. The streets are filled with signboards and posters of independent and party-nominated candidates. These posters mostly include slogans about change, poverty, security, development, illiteracy and promotion of justice. The posters and big boards look like resumes of the candidates, listing all their past experience and political background. The lists of their slogans are like whole manifestos. FULL POST

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Filed under: Afghanistan elections • Voices • Your View
July 16th, 2010
11:14 AM ET

Will Afghan women's rights be bargained away?

On a recent afternoon I visited with a Kabul girls' high school principal, whose office looks out on a beautiful and blooming garden. Trained in mathematics, she works 12 hours a day at a school that teaches more than 4,000 girls in three shifts each day.

She smiled with pride as she pointed to a shiny gold championship cup her students brought home from a recent sports tournament. But her mood shifted instantly when I asked about their future.

"We are living day by day in Afghanistan," she said. "Let's see what comes; let's see if they have a chance. Let's see what happens with security."

She and other Afghans will be watching Tuesday when a bevy of international donors descend upon their capital to discuss the Afghan government's plan to achieve peace and stability for its citizens. Women leaders are struggling for more than symbolic representation at the Kabul Conference, which will cover topics including agricultural development, economic empowerment, governance and security.

The most talked-about topic not on the official agenda: Talks with the Taliban.

Read the full commentary from Gayle Tzemach Lemmon

Filed under: Kabul conference • Taliban • Voices • Women's issues • Your View
June 30th, 2010
10:51 AM ET

Your view: Success in Afghanistan

The situation in Afghanistan is intensifying. Record coalition troop deaths in June. Tumult and transition among the war's leadership. Another Taliban attack, this time on the Jalalabad airport.

Last week, Gen. David Petraeus told CNN that he supports President Barack Obama's July 2011 deadline to start withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan, a key point of contention between the president and many of his Republican critics in Congress.

What do you think? Will the U.S. meet the July 2011 date? How do you think the government should define success? How would you define success in Afghanistan?

Filed under: Your View
June 28th, 2010
10:04 AM ET

How Afghanistan became the ignored war

If the Korean War, which began 60 years ago this past weekend, was America's forgotten war, Afghanistan has been America's ignored war.

Since President Obama authorized a surge of troops in Afghanistan in December 2009, there has been a notable absence of public debate or interest about this conflict.

Read the full commentary from Julian E. Zelizer

Filed under: Decision: Afghanistan • Voices • Your View
June 17th, 2010
08:29 AM ET

Afghan mines won't guarantee victory

A Pentagon estimate that Afghanistan is home to nearly a trillion dollars in sought-after minerals is good news, but it provides no assurance that the nation is on its way to peace and productivity, says analyst Fareed Zakaria.

Zakaria told CNN he is skeptical of the idea that you could "divide $1 trillion by the population of Afghanistan to reach the conclusion that every Afghan will be rich ... the history of natural resources and mineral wealth is that it produces enormous corruption and mismanagement, and very often the money does not go down to the average person."

Read the full Q&A with Fareed Zakaria

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Filed under: Voices • Your View