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karynnj Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 03:03 PM
Original message
SFRC holding hearing on Afghanistan strategies right now.
Edited on Wed Sep-16-09 03:21 PM by karynnj
Kerry gave his opening statement and they have recessed for a vote, Here is a link to live coverage - http://foreign.senate.gov/Flashtest.html

Here is a very poor summary - this is an incredible statement and it is not yet on the website.

Kerry went through the history. Spoke of moving the Taliban (in 2002), but not far. Spoke of the closing window of opportunity. He praised what the troops are doing, but says they need a policy equal to them. Says this should not be a partisan issue. They can help Obama by asking tough questions - as Obama himself has. HRC promised to come to testify in Oct after decisions made. Kerry says no amount of money, troops, etc will matter unless the mission is clear. Need to know size of foot print and the mission.

Kerry spoke of questions not being asked in 65, 66 on the domino theory and other things, when the refrain was just "more troops". Need the right level of civilian resources - not just a military solution. Need to know Afghan history - and that they are decentralized. Things that work in one place, won't work elsewhere. Need to weigh our choices of what is possible.

We need to be humble about the amount of change that we can create in another country - this was true in Iraq, and still is - even truer in Afghanistan. Obama said goal is to keep it from being an Al Queda stronghold. (Mentioned that a top AQ leader in Somalia killed - even with no major force there.)

Kerry said he did not know the answer, but they should not agree to a kneejerk ok of more troops - need to ask the questions. Need to communicate clear goal and show progress.

(I tried to get this right, but am a lousy typist - it is well worth it later reading or seeing this statement.)
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karynnj Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 03:26 PM
Response to Original message
1. Back in session - Lugar is speaking
Edited on Wed Sep-16-09 03:30 PM by karynnj
Lugar speaks of legislation that he and Biden pushed - not backed by Bush - for a reconstruction office. Afghanistan is the priority that Obama identified - and whatever military, need to have the diplomatic.
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karynnj Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 03:31 PM
Response to Original message
2. First witness-
Dr. John Nagl
President
Center for a New American Security
Washington, DC
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karynnj Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 05:13 PM
Response to Reply #2
21. Nagl's statement
I missed his words because of a phone call.
http://foreign.senate.gov/testimony/2009/NaglTestimony0...
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karynnj Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 03:42 PM
Response to Original message
3. Second Witness

Dr. Stephen Biddle
Senior Fellow for Defense Policy
Council on Foreign Relations
Washington, DC

Continuing the war or not is a close call - not obvious as proponents say and not as obviously unneeded as opponents say. Rejects the AQ haven argument. It is a problem because it destabilizes the region - esp Pakistan - with nuclear weapons. What we care of most is Pakistan, which we can not help directly. We can harm Pakistan by leaving Afghanistan in a mess.
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karynnj Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 03:47 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. Third witness
Rory Stewart
Director
Carr Center on Human Rights Policy
Harvard University
Cambridge, MA

Administration policy is counter insurgency. He disputed Biddle's argument on Pakistan. He gave a parallel of being in a room with an angry cat (A) and an angry tiger (P), where we are beating the cat - because we can't beat the tiger. He speaks of lack of progress in last 7 years. Says using Iraq as model doesn't work - close and hold model doesn't work. Can't create growth in economy and growth needed.

Increase in troops will cause an unsustainable footprint - which will lead to withdrawal - shock therapy. Advises patient long term relationship - 30 years!
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karynnj Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 05:14 PM
Response to Reply #4
23. Steward's testimony
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karynnj Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 05:13 PM
Response to Reply #3
22. Biddle's statement
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Inuca Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 03:49 PM
Response to Original message
5. Thanks for this
Hopefully I can catch a replay later.
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karynnj Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 04:05 PM
Response to Reply #5
7. It is good - and I can't do it justice
You could see a glimpse of Kerry the prosecutor on the counter insurgency vs counter terrorism discussion.
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karynnj Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 03:58 PM
Response to Original message
6. Counter terrorism is one part of counter insurgency
First two witnesses said that counter insurgency is a war. Counter insurgency manual says that the rule of thumb is that 500,000 to 600,000 troops are needed. (Nagl wants 400,000 Afghans and says that would take 5 years. Nagl says that we would spend the number of troops and money.

Kerry is questioning if you can fight a counter terrorism effort, rather than counter insurgency. Nagl says counter terrorism did not work. Kerry argued (and Nagel agreed ) that AQ is NOT in Afghanistan and that Pakistan is starting to do better. Kerry agrees Pakistan is essential.

Steward argued that increase effort in Afghanistan hurts in pakistan - driving up problems there and increasing anti- American sentiment because they see it as occupation of Afghanistan.

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blm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 04:06 PM
Response to Original message
8. thanks, K....just returned from school carpool duties - I would've missed JK's statements if you
weren't monitoring this hearing for us.
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Inuca Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 04:06 PM
Response to Original message
9. Somewhat related
Obama: I'll be very deliberate' in deciding whether to send more U.S. forces http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32879459/ns/politics-white_...
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karynnj Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 04:07 PM
Response to Original message
10. Lugar questioning
About the value to America and how it reflects on us.
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karynnj Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 04:14 PM
Response to Original message
11. Feingold
Feingold things this could be a turning point. Wants to have timeline to lessen the footprint. Need to be clear that our massive footprint is destabilizing the region.

Feingold asked Steward how could a SMALLER footprint lead to increased Taliban influence in Pakistan. Expert - they do not have powerful Pakistani military support, they are unlikely to be able to take over city. Pakistan is larger country and he does not think that that could destabilize Pakistan.

Asked Biddle if a middle course could work. Biddle thinks that Afghanistan needs help in developing an indigenous force and that will require more investment than some want. He said that 1 American might be needed for every 3 Afghanis being trained.

AQ are usually not Afghan, because the AQ are from educated backgrounds - and most Afghans aren't.
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karynnj Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 04:23 PM
Response to Original message
12. Corker - says no one has defined what victory would look like
Edited on Wed Sep-16-09 04:28 PM by karynnj
Nagl - Afghan state that does not represent a threat to its neighbors, stable - sounds like Iraq goals
Biddle - says they don't harbor AQ
Steward - spoke of wanting to help with rebuilding and changing society

Corker went to Afghanistan and said there is rebuilding - asked of what degree of nation building should we do.

Nagl - Taliban is currently providing some government roles in some areas. Need some degree of security, justice and economic hope. Want a state that can care for its people.

Biddle - minimalist - don't need to meet an abstract standard. Need to do better than alternative. The Taliban is an unpopular government that did not do well.

Steward - not a national security reason. We could be there 30 years and the best that likely could be done is to move them to Pakistan's level.

Corker spoke of how AQ is not indigenous and needed the Taliban as a support system. He said AQ is not popular and Taliban not eager to fight and we destroyed poppy without helping for alternative. Says goal of genuinely helping could be more popular, but he hasn't seen an effective policy.

Biddle - difficult to do development without security.
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karynnj Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 04:35 PM
Response to Original message
13. Corker's questions really are getting at what the value is of
the greater effort - which he sees as negative.

Nagl served in Al Anbar and he spoke of trying to do counter insurgency with too few troops and the enemy blew up most construction projects and killed many of the people trained. (Spoke of Levin wanting more troops for security)
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slipslidingaway Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 04:36 PM
Response to Original message
14. knr - thanks n/t
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karynnj Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 04:40 PM
Response to Original message
15. Casey spoke of having been in Afghanistan and Pakistan
Edited on Wed Sep-16-09 04:42 PM by karynnj
Says that they haven't had the time to really assess if this worked. Says he is happy for Kerry's call to have a real evaluation of the troops levels needed.

How do we accelerate the traing? How many trainers are needed?
Nagl are effort in 8 years not success story. He speaks of applying the Iraq model. He said they will have 4000 trainers. (I didn't capture numbers - but he thought it should be twice as big.) (Many lost have been trainers and advisers) Need to mentor units.

Casey asked about 3 radical groups in south. Most threatening - Taliban, the other two not nice, but not as committed as Taliban.
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karynnj Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 04:47 PM
Response to Original message
16. Shaheen
Asked what would a narrow counter terrorism effort look like?

Steward:
Look at what Taliban could do to protect AQ - in 2002, they let them put up tents and not hand them over. A more developed nation could be more dangerous than a failed state.

We have kept AQ out of Afghanistan and they haven't attacked from Afghanistan. Pakistan's stability more related to internal Pakistani efforts.
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karynnj Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 04:58 PM
Response to Original message
17. Kaufman
Edited on Wed Sep-16-09 04:58 PM by karynnj
asked Nagl of difficulty to build without clear and hold. Nagl - you own only the ground you stand on. People working for the US etc are threatened and some are killed. Unless they are cleared out, what we build in the day is destroyed in the night.

Asked Steward why he used Bosnia, when it is not a good counterpart - Steward said that it is fair to say that Afghan started out without the same history. It will likely take 4 times as long to do things because of that.

Biddle raised Somalia as an example of where counter terrorism from a distance - but the coiuntry has gotten worse.
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Thrill Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 05:05 PM
Response to Original message
18. After hearing Obama today. I think may he may be thinking of pulling the plug on this.
Edited on Wed Sep-16-09 05:09 PM by Thrill
.
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karynnj Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 05:06 PM
Response to Original message
19. Hearing over -
Lugar praised the hearing and spoke of another hearing tomorrow on Afghanistan and some future hearings that are scheduled. (Kerry had to leave before the very end due to a Finance committee meeting.)
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karynnj Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 05:12 PM
Response to Original message
20. Kerry's and Lugar's openning statements are now at the SFRC site
(so all can see how poorly I captured what they said.) Kerry's statement was very very good on what he wanted this hearing to try to do and speaking of needing a clear policy. (I'm not biased)

Kerry's statement
http://foreign.senate.gov/testimony/2009/KerryStatement...

Lugar's statement
http://foreign.senate.gov/testimony/2009/LugarStatement...
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ProSense Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 07:00 PM
Response to Reply #20
25. Thanks for this thread. Kerry's statement is excellent.
We also know that this should not become a partisan issue. Democrats and Republicans alike can best support the President not by acting as a rubber stamp. We can help him best by asking tough questions, just as he is doing, and partnering with the Administration to craft policies that reflect the answers.

<...>

First, it will be the Afghans who must ultimately win or lose the struggle with the Taliban. We need to ensure that the Afghan people feel a sense of ownershipnot of occupation.

Second, as I warned back in February, we need to recognize that we are in a race against time in Afghanistan. In a region suspicious of foreign troops, an open-ended obligation of large numbers of US troops risks consigning us to the same fate as others who tried to master Afghanistan. No matter how long we remain in Afghanistan, history should teach us that there will be no purely military solution in that country. Whats needed instead is a comprehensive strategy, one that emphasizes the need for the right civilian effort as much as for the right military deployment.

We must also understand Afghan realities and recognize the decentralized nature of Afghan society. That requires us to be flexible. Afghanistan is a very diverse place, and we need to understand that what works in Mazar-e Sharif, a predominantly Uzbek city that fought the Taliban tooth and nail in the 1990s, is very different from what works in Kandahar, a Pashtun city that welcomed the Taliban with open arms. It also requires us to be humble about our ability to bring large-scale change to other societies. That was true in Iraq, and it is even more true in Afghanistan. We have to weigh our choices against what is possible.



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karynnj Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 07:33 PM
Response to Reply #25
26. I just heard on Obama answer on TV that sounds like he is on the same page
at least in saying that the first thing is to get the strategy right and from that determine the troops needed. This really is an admission that, he, like Kerry feels the need to identify what could be done and what the best strategy is to do what he considers necessary.
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karynnj Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 05:26 PM
Response to Original message
24. The archived video is up on the SFRC site
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karynnj Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 07:54 PM
Response to Original message
27. Nice articles
Edited on Wed Sep-16-09 07:58 PM by karynnj

Most congressional hearings bring administration officials up for a grilling. Others present interest group-backed pseudo-experts to give canned analysis. Rarely do congressional hearings present eclectic analysts who address a given policy option from a first-principle perspective to an engaged group of lawmakers. Yet thats exactly what happened Wednesday afternoon when the Senate Foreign Relations Committee began what chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.) described as a series of hearings about the war in Afghanistan.

Kerry assembled three experts to scrutinize the core issues at the heart of the war and the alternatives proposed to wage it: John Nagl, the president of the Center for a New American Security, a think tank that has provided significant personnel and intellectual heft to the Obama administration; Steve Biddle, an influential security expert with the Brookings Institution who advised Gen. Stanley McChrystals recent review of Afghanistan strategy; and Rory Stewart, head of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University, who wrote a widely read travelogue of his journeys through Afghanistan. Intellectual cleavages over both strategy and basic views of the war were apparent on the panel, with Nagl and Biddle supporting a more robustly resourced war with broader aims than Stewart endorsed. But both Nagl and Biddle grappled with the harder implications of such positions, with Nagl emphasizing the primacy of competent Afghan, not U.S., security forces, and Biddle equivocating on the overall importance of Afghanistan to U.S. interests.

<snip>
t was difficult to read the impact the testimony had on the assembled senators. Most, including Kerry, posed skeptical questions to all panelists, indicating a more open debate than the congressional debate over the Iraq war, which often devolved into questioning designed to elicit politically-useful responses. Kerry, for instance, has described the struggle against al-Qaeda as a global counterinsurgency, yet he aimed most of his more pointed questions at Nagl, who mostly agrees with that analysis.

Kerry said that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton had agreed to testify before the panel next month, after President Obama made a decision on whether to send additional troops to Afghanistan. Another hearing, on how to avoid failure in Afghanistan, is scheduled for Thursday morning, when the panel will hear from ret. Gen. Bantz Craddock, the former NATO commander; development expert Clare Lockhart; novelist Khaled Hosseini; and Ryan Crocker, the former U.S. ambassador to Iraq and Pakistan.





http://washingtonindependent.com/59638/kerry-opens-vigo...

Here's a short article from the American Prospect's blog


In an opening statement at a hearing this afternoon on Afghanistan strategy -- previewed ably by Spencer Ackerman -- Senator John Kerry doesn't seem too comfortable at all with the administration's current plan. At one point he left his prepared remarks behind to recall when he was a young naval officer heading to Vietnam as President Lyndon Johnson and General William Westmoreland were constantly calling for more troops to achieve their adjustments without questioning crucial strategic assumptions like the "domino theory." Kerry concluded that we have to ask those fundamental questions now, saying...

I am concerned because at the very moment when our troops and our allies troops are sacrificing more and more, our plan, our path, and our progress seem to be growing less and less clear. ... no amount of money, no rise in troop levels, and no clever metrics will matter if the mission is ill conceived.

He seems to be thinking about a strategy that has a smaller footprint on the ground, noting that he doesn't believe the U.S. should be in Afghanistan to create a central government or a carbon-copy of U.S. democracy. Further,

... In a week when U.S. commandos killed a top al-Qaeda leader in Somalia without a major troop presence, we should be asking ourselves how much counterinsurgency and nation-building are required to meet a more limited set of goals.


http://www.prospect.org/csnc/blogs/tapped_archive?month...
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