Here’s a must-read for the weekend: a new report by the Asia Society Independent Task Force on Afghanistan-Pakistan, co-chaired by Thomas Pickering and Barnett Rubin. In the terrifyingly slim body of well thought-out papers on “Af-Pak”, this is among the best. It pretty much says all the right things, including:
- Stop talking about GWOT and focus on al-Qaeda.
- End OEF and instead make NATO-ISAF work.
- Combat narcotics not by indiscriminate crop eradication but by increasing employment opportunities and opening markets to Afghan products.
- Help Pakistan integrate FATA into the mainstream and reform PATA. Drone strikes are counterproductive.
The only thing that made me blanch was the suggestion of a Status of Forces Agreement between Afghanistan and its foreign benefactors. I agree that the Western military commitment cannot remain open-ended and that Afghanistan’s sovereignty has to be respected, but jeez, this is climbing up the tree ass first. For a SOFA to work you need a working host country government with some legitimacy and a semblance of control over that precious sovereign territory.
For some upbeat spin, here’s NATO’s annual Afghanistan report.
And here’s a word of caution — and some excellent advice — from Rick Olson, who knows what he’s talking about.