Journal Article - World Policy Journal

Afghanistan: Partners in Time

| Fall 2008


In 1993, I wrote an article for World Policy Journal entitled "Partners in Time: the CIA and Afghanistan since 1979." The title was intended to convey the idea that this was a temporary arrangement; that once the external threat had been removed (i.e., the Soviet occupation), then the Central Intelligence Agency (i.e., the American government) and Afghanistan would go back to a normal, less embracing relationship.

"...One thing going for the next U.S. president is that this war was not started on his watch. (Neither was Iraq.) This allows for a certain freedom for him to change the U.S. position. As with any new administration, it is the time, potentially, for imaginative solutions. One cannot of course predict what will be the evolving turn of events come 2009, in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the region as a whole. Afghanistan (as well as Pakistan) could deteriorate into something quite a bit worse than it is now. But one point is sure: as long as the safe haven remains in Pakistan, the situation for the United States and NATO will continue to be extremely difficult.

If the Pakistani authorities cannot or will not play their part, a way should be found to scale back significantly the U.S. and NATO military commitment in Afghanistan. Our fundamental problem, it should be emphasized, is with Al Qaeda, and secondarily with the Taliban, who sheltered Al Qaeda. We cannot be perceived as moving toward a colonial war, as happened in Vietnam...."

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For Academic Citation: Cogan, Charles G.. Afghanistan: Partners in Time.” World Policy Journal, vol. 25. no. 3. (Fall 2008):