New York, April 2, 2009—An Asia Society task force report released today recommends a comprehensive reformulation of US strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan amidst rapidly deteriorating conditions in both countries. The report argues that much of the effort in Afghanistan over recent years has been strategically unfocused and often counter-productive. Incremental changes alone, such as more troops or more aid, cannot address the monumental challenge the US faces in the region. The US must focus on isolating and defeating Al Qaeda and eliminating their sanctuaries in the region by providing security for the Afghan population, providing for the long-term stabilization of Afghanistan and Pakistan, and encouraging regional cooperation in support of the above goals.
Back from the Brink? A Strategy for Stabilizing Afghanistan-Pakistan was co-chaired by former US Ambassador to the United Nations, Ambassador Thomas Pickering and Dr. Barnett Rubin, one of the foremost experts on Afghanistan. Other notable task force members included former Assistant Secretary of State Karl Inderfurth, former US Ambassador to Afghanistan Ronald Neumann, as well as Ambassador Teresita Schaffer, Ahmed Rashid, Peter Bergen, and Rory Stewart. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, former Chairman of the Asia Society and current Special Representative for Afghanistan-Pakistan, as well as National Security Adviser General James Jones were also members of the task force but stepped down to assume their new appointments before the first draft of the report was completed.
“This report is an unprecedented call for dramatic policy changes, both in terms of the caliber of its authors and the scope of their recommendations. As the new US administration and the UN—really, the world—look for answers for this region, this task force provides a bold new vision for the way forward,” said Asia Society President Vishakha N. Desai.The task force acknowledges that American interests and objectives in the Afghanistan-Pakistan nexus remain critically important to US security and addressing the threat of al-Qaida and its allies, but emphasizes that policy must be grounded in a realistic understanding of what is achievable. To achieve lasting stability, US strategy in the region must integrate counterterrorism, governance, economic development, and regional objectives.
The report includes the following recommendations:
Full version of the report and executive summary are available here.
Task Force Members
Co-ChairsAmbassador Thomas Pickering
The Asia Society is an international organization dedicated to strengthening relationships and deepening understanding among the peoples of Asia and the United States. We seek to increase knowledge and enhance dialogue, encourage creative expression, and generate new ideas across the fields of policy, business, education, arts, and culture.
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