Policy Brief

Saving Afghanistan

| March 2008

An Appeal and Plan for Urgent Action

Co-chaired by General (ret.) James L. Jones and Kristin Krohn Devold, the Strategic Advisors Group of the Atlantic Council of the United States wrote this issue brief warning that without urgent policy changes U.S. and international efforts may fail in Afghanistan. The brief addresses the current situation in Afghanistan and offers several policy recommendations to ensure future success there.

Building a functioning Afghanistan is inherently fraught with difficulty. Much of the nation's infrastructure was destroyed by the Soviet occupation and the years of Taliban rule. Despite nearly seven years of reconstruction effort, the situation on the civil side is not improving as expected. The Taliban still control sparsely populated parts of Afghanistan. Civil reforms, reconstruction, and development work have not gained traction across the whole country, especially in the South.

Many of the NATO nations engaged in Afghanistan lack a sense of urgency in comprehending the gravity of the situation and the need for effective action now. And the dangers and difficulties in Afghanistan have been intensified following the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in December 2007. Political turmoil in Islamabad could contribute to the porous border that continues to provide a safe haven for Taliban and insurgents to stage attacks into Afghanistan.

These realities lead to two major prescriptions. First, only a regional solution can bring peace, security, and prosperity to Afghanistan. Second, efforts inside Afghanistan must be coordinated and integrated, in the first instance with a "high commissioner" given the appropriate authority by the UN Security Council to carry out this integration, to develop a regional approach to Afghan problems, and to implement a comprehensive plan of action.

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For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Jones, James L. and Kristin Krohn Devold, Atlantic Council of the United States. “Saving Afghanistan.” Policy Brief, March 2008.