Losing The Afghan-Pakistan War?
October 21, 2008
The situation in Afghanistan has been deteriorating for nearly half a decade, and is now reaching a crisis level. Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen have acknowledged that it is now an Afghan-Pakistan conflict, and one lacking in both military and civilian resources. It is also a war that is becoming increasingly more deadly for civilians, aid workers, and US and NATO forces.
Resurgent Taliban, Haqqani, and HIG forces have turned much of Afghanistan into “no-go” zones for aid workers and civilians. These forces, benefiting from a rise in poppy cultivation and safe havens in the FATA regions of Pakistan, are steadily expanding their capabilities and geographic reach.
This story is told in detail in a new CSIS briefing entitled “Losing the Afghan-Pakistan War? The Rising Threat.” It is available here.
This report includes a graphic and map analysis of the fighting in Pakistan, changes in the character of the threat, and the rise in Afghan and allied casualties. UN and declassified US intelligence maps detail the steady expansion of threat influence and the regions that are unsafe for aid workers. Other data show how Afghan drug growing has steadily moved south and become a major source of financing for the Taliban.
It shows that the next President will face a critical challenge in dealing with a war that is probably being lost at the political and strategic level, and is not being won at the tactical level. It is clear why the senior US and NATO/ISAF commanders in Afghanistan are calling for substantially more troops than President Bush decided to deploy this September, and the problems in this briefing are compounded by critical problems in Afghan and Pakistani governance and economic development.
Regardless of the focus of the current US political campaign, these neglected challenges will have to take center stage in the first months of the next administration.