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On July 30, the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security and South Asia Center will host an event on the strategic imperatives facing the United States and its allies after the 2014 drawdown in Afghanistan.
The debate on the US and allied role in Afghanistan after 2014 has hit the front pages once again with reporting that the Obama administration is considering a “zero option” that would remove all US troops from the country. Discussions on this topic are taking place at the highest level, including last week at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), committee chairman, declared that “the United States needs to make clear once again that we are committed to a long-term partnership with Afghanistan. Period.” Meanwhile, even as the United States debates its future presence in Afghanistan, some US allies have already made post-2014 commitments of their own, including Germany and Italy.
Yet the US debate over troop presence is taking place without a vigorous public debate over the nature of US and allied interests in Afghanistan and its larger region beyond 2014. What US military presence, if any, is the best way to secure US and allied interests? What lessons can the United States learn from previous force presence negotiations with Iraq—which produced a zero option—as it negotiates with Afghanistan? What are the consequences for the US and NATO of various courses of action, particularly if the ‘zero option’ is selected after over a decade of US and allied support? What impact would various courses of US action have on Afghanistan’s neighbors, including Pakistan and Central Asia? And how would any future posture shape Afghan politics and Afghan institutions, like the ANSF? To address these and other questions, the Atlantic Council has assembled a diverse panel to talk about the strategic implications of any decision taken by t he Obama administration on Afghanistan.
A discussion with
Director, South Asia Center
Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Central Asia
US Department of Defense
Vice President and Director, Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security
Joshua Foust is a freelance journalist who covers national security issues. He is a former fellow at the American Security Project, a former senior political analyst for the Defense Intelligence Agency and Army Intelligence and Security Command in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen, and was an Atlantic Council Young Atlanticist. He’s been published by the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, the Atlantic, Foreign Policy, Salon, and the Council on Foreign Relations. His first book, Afghanistan Journal, chronicled his time working for the US Army as a cultural adviser in Afghanistan for the Human Terrain System.
Shuja Nawaz, a native of Pakistan, is the director of the South Asia Center at the Atlantic Council. He is a political and strategic analyst and writes for leading newspapers and websites, and speaks on current topics before civic groups, at think tanks, and on radio and television worldwide. He has worked with RAND, the United States Institute of Peace, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and other leading think tanks on projects dealing with Pakistan and the Middle East. He has also advised and briefed senior government and military officials and parliamentarians in the United States, Europe, and Pakistan.
David Sedney was the deputy assistant secretary of defense for Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Central Asia until June 2013. Before that, he was deputy assistant secretary for East Asia from 2007 to 2009. Mr. Sedney was also deputy chief of mission at the United States embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan from 2003 to 2004, where he was charge d’affaires from August through November 2003. Before that, he served a deputy chief of mission in after the embassy opened again in 2002.
The moderator for this event, Barry Pavel, is a vice president of the Atlantic Council and the director of the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security. He focuses on emerging security challenges, defense strategies and capabilities, and key European and defense issues. Prior to joining the Atlantic Council, he was a career member of the Senior Executive Service in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy for almost eighteen years. From October 2008 through July 2010, he served as the special assistant to the president and senior director for defense policy and strategy on the National Security Council (NSC) staff, serving both President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama.