Washington D.C. – November 30, 2009 – President Obama’s much-anticipated decision about sending additional troops to Afghanistan comes after several months of vigorous public discourse about the appropriate strategy for achieving success in that country. The Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI) has been active in this debate, releasing a fact sheet, organizing an open letter to the president, and hosting conferences to further the discussion about the way forward in Afghanistan.
During the time that President Obama has been mulling General McChrystal’s request for additional troops, a number of politicians, advisors, and analysts have put forth various arguments against a significant increase in troop strength and a counterinsurgency (COIN) strategy in Afghanistan. The arguments, when closely considered, expose a default resistance to completing the mission, not a thoughtful dismantling of the pro “surge” case. FPI’s fact sheet lists the most popular critiques of General Stanley McChrystal’s COIN strategy and resource request, each followed by clear refutations from relevant experts. The fact sheet is available here.
In September 2009, in an open letter to President Obama organized by FPI, a distinguished group of Americans active in the foreign policy debate expressed support for the U.S. effort in Afghanistan and called upon President Obama to continue to provide the necessary resources requested by his commanders on the ground to ensure success. The group of experts offered their appreciation for the president’s decision earlier this year to deploy 21,000 additional U.S. troops to the country and urged him to continue to properly resource the continued war effort. Amidst increasing public concern about the U.S. commitment in Afghanistan, the letter also suggested that the President make it a priority to explain to the American people why it is important to remain committed to winning in Afghanistan, and why such a victory is feasible. The text of the letter is available here.
Afghanistan has also been a prominent topic of FPI’s public events. At the 2009 FPI Forum on “Advancing and Defending Democracy,” two panels discussed the path forward in Afghanistan. One session addressed the military dimensions of the war and the other panel, featuring Amb. Zalmay Khalilzad, Rep. Mark Kirk, and Gen. Mark Kimmitt, focused on the political debate in Washington and around the country.
In August 2009, FPI’s Director for Democracy and Human Rights, Ellen Bork, served as an election monitor in Ghazni Province. She wrote about her experience in an article for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, “What I Saw While Afghanistan Voted,” which is available here.
In March 2009, shortly after the President announced his intention to send an additional 21,000 troops to Afghanistan FPI hosted a half-day conference, “Afghanistan: Planning for Success,” which featured remarks from Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), and then-Rep. John McHugh (R-NY), who has since been nominated by President Obama to serve as Secretary of the Army, as well as Frederick Kagan, John Nagl, and Gen. David Barno. Transcripts, video, and summaries from this conference can be found here.
FPI staff including Executive Director Jamie Fly, Policy Advisor Abe Greenwald, and Director for Democracy and Human Rights Ellen Bork are available to discuss the President’s speech on Tuesday. Interview requests should be submitted to Rachel Hoff at the contact information listed below.
For more information, contact:
Rachel Hoff: Tel.: + 001 202 296-3322
Director of External Affairs
FPI is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that seeks to promote an active U.S. foreign policy committed to robust support for democratic allies, human rights, a strong American military equipped to meet the challenges of the 21st century, and global economic competitiveness. The organization is led by Executive Director Jamie Fly. FPI was founded by Robert Kagan, William Kristol, and Dan Senor.