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Roundtable Forum - AFGHANISTAN - WHAT NEXT?

International Affairs Forum posed the following question to eight commentators on Afghanistan: "The report by the Afghanistan Study Group warns the conflict there could become a 'forgotten war' and that Afghanistan is at risk of becoming a 'failed state'. Is this a fair assessment, and what can and should be done to stop this happening?"

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Understanding Failure in Afghanistan
Michael Williams, Royal United Services Institute

Response: Recent reports contend that Afghanistan is in danger of becoming a “failed state”. While their caution is understandable, this reports seem to gloss over the rather obvious point. Afghanistan is not in danger of becoming a failed state, it is a failed state. It was a failed state when NATO took over the ISAF mission in 2003. It was a failed state when Osama bin Laden used it as the launch pad for ... more

In Afghanistan, it’s either surge or succumb
Dan Korski, European Council on Foreign Relations

Response: Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s decision to rescind his invitation to Paddy Ashdown, the British peer, to become U.N. envoy in Kabul, may have been the moment when the U.S.-led effort to stabilize his war-torn country was finally seen for what it has become: a failing struggle, the outcome of which depends on a desperate if Westernized war-lord, more concerned about his own reelection than his cou... more

Time to change course
Caroline Wadhams, Center for American Progress

Response: The Afghanistan Study Group, like many other reports, highlights a deeply troubling situation in Afghanistan. Skyrocketing opium production, deteriorating security and a weak government plague efforts to build the Afghan state and to defeat the Taliban-led insurgency. While the majority of the Afghan population still supports Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the international presence, they are... more

Afghanistan not perfect but no failed state either
James Robbins, Trinity Washington University

Response: The Afghan Study Group report presents an ideal list of policy options, but it is important not to set the bar too high on expectations of what can be done in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is a victim of its relative success. It became known as a forgotten front in the war on terrorism because events in Iraq drove it from the headlines. Afghanistan is larger than Iraq, and more populous, yet for ye... more

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