2013 FPI Forum: Afghanistan 2014: What are the Stakes?

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Afghanistan 2014: What are the Stakes?

Dr. Seth G. Jones, Associate Director, International Security and Defense Policy Center, RAND Corporation

Dr. Frederick W. Kagan, Director, American Enterprise Institute’s Critical Threats Project

Dr. Ashley J. Tellis, Senior Associate, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Moderated by Lara Logan, 60 Minutes Correspondent, CBS News

What Defense Does America Need?
Rudy deLeon, Center for American Progress and former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense
Amb. Eric Edelman, FPI Board Director and former U.S. Under Secretary of Defense for Policy
Dr. Dov S. Zakheim, Center for Naval Analyses and former U.S. Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller/Chief Financial Officer)
Moderator: Bradley Peniston, Editor, Armed Forces Journal - See more at: http://www.foreignpolicyi.org/2013forum#sthash.6JhuIyYH.dpuf

Video  |  Audio  |  Key Quotes  |  Transcript


Key RUSH Quotes

Dr. Seth Jones on al-Qaeda’s future in Afghanistan:  “A civil war or a successful Taliban-lead insurgency would almost certainly let al-Qaeda back into Afghanistan and Pakistan, more than it is today.”
Dr. Jones on women’s rights in Afghanistan:  “A civil war or a successful Taliban-lead insurgency would deal, in my view, a severe blow to human rights, including women’s rights, in this region.  The Taliban remain deeply opposed to women’s rights and would likely reverse progress in a country that has experienced an extraordinary improvement in the number of female business owners, government officials, primary, secondary, and university students. You would see a major backlash.”
Dr. Jones on perceptions of a U.S. withdrawal:  “A U.S. exit from this country will likely foster a perception about U.S. reliability… [A]n American exit from Afghanistan, we have already seen this in jihadist networks—if it were to happen, it’s not necessarily clear—would likely be viewed and would be trumpeted by extremist groups, including al-Qaeda, as their most important victory since the departure of Soviet forces from Afghanistan in 1989.”
Dr. Ashley J. Tellis on Afghanistan’s transformation:  “When you look at Afghanistan today, what you actually have is a constitutional regime of the kind that was simply impossible to conceive during the high tide of Soviet occupation and during the painful years that came afterwards.  So you are now looking at a country that actually has the potential to build on a structure that if improved and invested in, can provide more opportunities for all Afghans – including those who are currently opposing the state.  So just recognizing that this has been a fundamental success in terms of an ability to put in place a structure, where all you had before was an anarchy, is something that you cannot overlook.”
Dr. Tellis on U.S. interests in Afghanistan:  “The question is not whether one needs to bail out of Afghanistan because it has the maladies of an underdeveloped state, but whether we can persist consistently in Afghanistan not necessarily for the sake of the Afghans alone, but because it fundamentally comports with our own interests.  And what are those interests? Those interests come back to the same interests that we went into Afghanistan to begin with in 2001, and that is that is it is still an unresolved security problem in Afghanistan that directly affects the well-being of the American people and those of our allies.”
Dr. Frederick W. Kagan on the state of the Afghan National Security Forces: “We’ve made an enormous amount of progress.  There is an Afghan National Security Force that is getting after our enemies.  And they are getting after our enemies.  The people that the Afghan national security forces are taking it to are al-Qaeda and their allies. They are doing that increasing, but they will not be ready in 2014 to take over that responsibility without any American assistance because they weren’t designed to be ready in 2014 for that role any more than the Iraqi security forces were designed to be ready in 2012 to take over responsibility for Iraq without any assistance.”
Dr. Kagan on al-Qaeda:  “What the administration is trying to do is to define the threat from al-Qaeda down to be only those individuals who were actually either involved in the 9/11 attacks or part of the organization at the time of the 9/11 attacks.”

Dr. Kagan on al-Qaeda in Iraq:  “You have now an al Qaeda in Iraq franchise that is back to the level of car bombing that it was conducting at the height of the surge in 2007 before the violence came down.  That has all happened since American forces withdrew.”

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