From CNN National Security Producer Jennifer Rizzo
Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman suggested a total defeat of the Taliban during CNN's Republican presidential debate on national security issues Tuesday night –- with Huntsman’s comments standing in stark contrast to the reality of the continuing attacks by the group in the country.
"We have dismantled the Taliban, we've run them out of Kabul," the former Utah governor said when explaining why he believes the United States should have a much smaller troop presence in Afghanistan than the almost 100,000 troops there now. "We need a presence on the ground that is more akin to 10-to-15,000 that will help with intelligence gathering and special forces responsibility."
But the Taliban continues to be a threat, and attacks orchestrated by the group continue month after month in-country.
Editor’s note: This analysis is part of Security Clearance blog’s “Debate Preps” series. On November 22, CNN, along with AEI and The Heritage Foundation, will host a Republican candidate debate focused on national security topics. In the run-up to the debate, Security Clearance asked both the sponsoring conservative think tanks to look at the key foreign policy issues and tell us what they want to hear candidates address.
By AEI's Frederick Kagan, Special to CNN
What do we need to achieve in Afghanistan in order to protect the security of the United States and its allies?
That core question should shape any discussion of our strategy in Afghanistan or the resources we devote to executing it. But that question is too often obscured.
Many say that pursuing any kind of “success” in Afghanistan, the supposed “graveyard of empires,” is sheer folly. Others say that is has become irrelevant, and that the death of Osama bin Laden has deprived the war in Afghanistan of continued meaning.
These facile assertions produce more palatable answers, but do not answer the core question. Presidents and candidates for president owe
Americans a clear and cogent answer, at least, as well as an explanation for how their proposed strategy that they lay out will accomplish the requirements for American security. FULL POST
By Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr
The commander of NATO's international security force in Afghanistan sacked a senior U.S. Army general Friday for making disparaging comments about the Afghan government.
Gen. John R. Allen, commander of the International Security Assistance Force, said Major Gen. Peter Fuller was relieved of duty, effective immediately, for making "inappropriate public comments."
Fuller, who was helping train and equip Afghan security forces, made less-than-diplomatic comments about the Afghan government and its leaders to a Politico reporter, including claims that some Afghan leaders are "isolated from reality."
Politico quoted Fuller as criticizing Afghan President Hamid Karzai for saying Afghanistan would side with Pakistan against America in war.
"Why don't you just poke me in the eye with a needle?" Fuller said. "You've got to be kidding me. I'm sorry, we just gave you $11.6 billion, and now you're telling me, 'I don't really care'?"
U.S. officials have said Karzai's remarks were misunderstood. FULL POST
By National Security Producer Jamie Crawford
The Obama administration added a Haqqani network commander to the list of terrorists prohibited from engaging in the U.S. financial system Tuesday, and effectively froze any of his property that is subject to U.S. jurisdiction.
Mali Khan has directed hundreds of fighters to conduct terrorist attacks against Afghan civilians, police and coalition forces, the State Department said in a statement.
Khan's deputy provided support to the suicide bombers who attacked the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul earlier this year, according to the U.S. government. Twelve people died in the attacks.
The designation was made despite Khan's current detention in Afghanistan. He was captured during a combined Afghan and coalition force security operation.
By CNN's Nick Paton Walsh reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan
The investigation into the suicide bombing that killed 17 people on Saturday suggests it was the work of the Pakistan-based Haqqani network, an Afghan official said Monday.
"We have some contacts and some evidence on the ground and some information about the vehicles used and the people used," Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said, stressing that the results of the investigation were preliminary.
"This is another sophisticated attack by the operatives of the Haqqani network, and we are also optimistic to arrest some of their operatives in Kabul in the days ahead," he said.
However, a spokesman for international forces in Afghanistan, which lost nine troops in the attack, said they have no indications yet that the Haqqani network was involved. FULL POST
By Nick Paton Walsh reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan
Five troops and eight civilians were killed in central Kabul when a suicide bomber struck a vehicle in a military convoy, NATO's International Security Assistance Force said Saturday.
A U.S. military official earlier said they were Americans, but an ISAF spokesman could not confirm that.
Click here for the full story.
By Senior National Security Producer Charley Keyes
The Taliban is weakened but the ability of insurgents to hide across the border in Pakistan is the greatest threat to success in Afghanistan, according to the latest Pentagon evaluation of the war, released this week.
"The insurgency's safe havens in Pakistan, as well as the limited capacity of the Afghan government, remain the biggest risks to the process of turning security gains into a durable, stable Afghanistan," according to the "Report on Progress Towards Security and Stability in Afghanistan," a congressionally mandated evaluation of the war's progress that is provided twice a year.
By CNN National Security Producer Jamie Crawford
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Thursday the United States would be willing to negotiate with the leader of Afghanistan's Taliban if he met conditions that have been laid out.
Testifying at a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Clinton did not dismiss the prospect when asked by Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, whether reconciliation talks with the Taliban and other insurgents would include talking with Taliban leader Mullah Omar.
"You don't make peace with your friends," she said, speaking just days after concluding a weeklong trip that included stops in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.
There first would have to be a demonstrated willingness on the Taliban's part to negotiate and to meet the conditions already laid out for joining negotiations, she said.
By Nick Paton Walsh reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan
More than a year after remarks he made in a controversial Rolling Stone article cost him his job, retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal is heading back to Afghanistan - at the invitation of the country's presidential palace.
A U.S. Embassy spokesman said Thursday that McChrystal, the former commander of the NATO mission in Afghanistan, would soon visit Kabul.
"Ambassador (Ryan) Crocker was consulted about Gen. McChrystal's visit and he had no problem with it. (McChrystal and his wife) are traveling as private citizens and they are not carrying any particular message," embassy spokesman Gavin Sundwall said.
McChrystal was removed from his post in June 2010 after the general and top aides were quoted in the Rolling Stone article disparaging top administration officials.
At the time, U.S. President Barack Obama praised McChrystal's service record but said the general exhibited poor judgment.
Afghanistan's presidential palace has not released additional information about the visit.
Some 90% of the money in and around Afghanistan is coming from the United States and its allies. Yet this tidal wave of cash is distorting the Afghan economy, breeding corruption, and creating a dependency that may be tough to break. On Time's Battleland blog, Mark Thompson looks at the money flow with Stephen Biddle, an Afghanistan expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, and Brian Katulis, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, assess the money flow with John Nagl, president of the Center for a New American Security.