Remember the Center for a New American Security, the counterinsurgent-heavy defense think tank that used to be run by Michele Flournoy and Kurt Campbell before they became, respectively, undersecretary of defense for policy and assistant secretary of state for East Asia? Several other scholars at the think tank are probably going into the administration as well. Which probably means that the brand-new CNAS policy paper on Afghanistan/Pakistan will be widely read. (Indeed, much like an administration policy paper, it’s a svelte three pages.)
Admirably, the paper starts with basic principles — it’s even titled “Tell Me Why We’re There?” — and seeks to provide a ” clear articulation of U.S. interests in Afghanistan, a concise definition of what the coalition seeks to achieve there, and a detailed strategy to guide the effort.” It defines the worthy goals of policy negatively: “The Two No’s” — shades of CNAS’s “Three No’s” for Iraq in 2007, there — are “no sanctuary for terrorists with global reach in Afghanistan,” and “no broader regional meltdown.” If this sounds like a diminished expectation for policy, it’s not, really: authors and counterinsurgency luminaries David Kilcullen, John Nagl, Vikram Singh and Nate Fick says the strategy requires:
An internal balance between centralized and traditional power centers—not central government control everywhere—is the key to Afghan stability. Achieving this will require more military forces, but also a much greater commitment to good governance and to providing for the needs of the Afghan people where they live. The coalition will need to use its considerable leverage to counter Afghan government corruption at every level.
Oh, just that, fellas? Corruption in Afghanistan is, from what I saw, pretty endemic; and decentralized governance, from what people told me, was a contributing factor to it — the local leaders demanded kickbacks, and their provincial leaders demanded kickbacks, all the way up to Kabul. I’m not saying I have a better idea, just that CNAS’ proposals may be in greater tension than the paper discusses.
It also endorses integrating policy with Afghanistan and Pakistan’s neighbors, which presumably means the ‘stans, Iran and India. Interestingly, the paper doesn’t say anything about the prospect of either negotiating with the insurgency to try and fracture it; or building up Iraq-style tribal militias, two recent proposals. I wonder what’s up with that.
Either way, if you’re about to work in the Pentagon policy directorate, you should probably save yourself time and get Flournoy your notes on the CNAS paper by Monday morning.
Rep. Paul Ryan to deliver SOTU response
Chairman of the House Budget Committee Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) will deliver the Republican response to the State of the Union Tuesday, according to Mike Allen
Rep. Parker Griffith (R-Ala.)
One of the most conservative Democrats in the House -- a freshman who said he couldn’t support Nancy Pelosi again -- is going to switch over to the GOP. Josh
Rep. Paulsen allies with medical device industry to relax FDA oversight
Source: Flickr; Republicanconference (www.flickr.com/photos/republicanconference) On the heels of the Minnesota Independent story last week about U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen’s cozy financial relationship with the medical device industry, the New York Times reported Tuesday that some health professionals are alarmed by Paulsen’s push to relax Food and Drug Administration (FDA) oversight
Rep. Patrick McHenry: Please, Conservatives, Fill Out Your Census Forms!
The conservative congressman from North Carolina, a constant critic of the census -- one of the people who sounded the alarm about politicization when the
Rep. Paulsen touts balanced budget constitutional amendment
In a post for the conservative blog True North , U.S. Rep
Rep. Perlmutter criticizes House measure that would eliminate 800K federal jobs
Congressman Ed Perlmutter today issued a scathing statement criticizing the House of Representatives for passing a spending bill that could put nearly a million federal employees out of work. The Colorado delegation voted strictly on party lines, with all four Republicans voting in favor of the bill and the three Democrats voting in opposition. Perlmutter’s statement: “My number one priority is to get people back to work because that’s the best thing we can do to pay our debt and move forward toward economic stability
Rep. Peace, ACLU seek investigation of soldier’s allegations of racial discrimination in Afghanistan
Both Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM) and the American Civil Liberties Union agree: There needs to be an investigation into Spc.
Rep. Paulsen, Karl Rove the latest to get ‘glittered’
Rep. Erik Paulsen and former Bush staffer Karl Rove were both showered with glitter at the Midwest Leadership Conference Friday
Rep. Pete Hoekstra Surging in Michigan Gubernatorial Bid
The ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee -- you couldn’t flip on a TV without seeing him in the aftermath of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s botched
School of Hock
A growing number of college grads are defaulting on their student loans as the economy worsens.