The United States federal government should implement a phased withdrawal of at least nearly all of the United States federal government’s ground troops engaged in population centric counterinsurgency presence activities in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

Contention one is Inherency:

The US is in Afghanistan for the long haul – Obama’s commitment to counterinsurgency guarantees a open-ended commitment
[Joe, American civilization @ UPenn, journalist and columnist, member of the Council on Foreign Relations, former Guggenheim Fellow, "Can Obama and Petraeus Work Together?" June 24,,8816,1999251,00.html ]
By 2009 the gospel of COIN had helped revive the phlegmatic Army. Its two chief promoters, Petraeus and McChrystal, seemingly could do no wrong. They stormed into Obama's extended Afghan-policy review intent on having their way. They sort of got it: 30,000 more troops, on top of the 20,000 Obama had initially dispatched — after a series of pitched battles between Petraeus, who was the most vocal military participant in the process, and Vice President Joe Biden, who was the most vocal civilian. But the policy featured two caveats that have been misinterpreted — purposely, in some cases — by the military and oversold by the Obama Administration to the Democratic Party base. The first was the deadline of July 2011, at which time a transition would begin to Afghan control of the war. Petraeus, McChrystal and Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen agreed to this because it wasn't really a deadline. There was no intention of actually pulling troops from the real Afghan war zones in the south and east in July 2011; the assumption was that if things were going well, some forces would stay for years, in gradually diminishing numbers, doing the patient work of counterinsurgency. The other caveat was more problematic: there would be another policy review in December 2010, to see how well things were going. "I wouldn't want to overplay the significance of this review," Petraeus told the House Armed Services Committee recently. But Petraeus is wrong; in fact, the review is crucial. The implicit agreement was that if things aren't going well by December, the strategy will have to change. And things haven't been going well. So the military has been quietly working the press, complaining about the July 2011 transition date, pressing for more troops, complaining about the lack of civilian progress in Afghanistan — the failure of the Afghan government and U.S. State Department to provide security and programs for the populace — complaining about the failure of Richard Holbrooke to get all the recalcitrant neighbors (Pakistan, India, Iran and China, among others — what a bunch!) on board with a coherent regional strategy. A lot of this griping was at the heart of the Rolling Stone story. "When the military says withdrawals should be conditions-based, here's what they mean," says Les Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations. "If things are going well, we shouldn't withdraw, because the policy is working. If things aren't going well, we should add more troops. What they really want is no decision on anything until July 2011."

Contention two is Primacy:

The commitment to counterinsurgency is doomed to failure – it requires ever-expanding and unsustainable deployments that doom broad US security interests

Christopher A. Preble, director of foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute, "Is the War in Afghanistan Winnable?" May 21 , Cato Institute, originally published on The Economist Online, |

The appropriate question is not whether the war is winnable. If we define victory narrowly, if we are willing to apply the resources necessary to have a reasonable chance of success, and if we have capable and credible partners, then of course the war is winnable. Any war is winnable under these conditions. None of these conditions exist in Afghanistan, however. Our mission is too broadly construed. Our resources are constrained. The patience of the American people has worn thin. And our Afghan partners are unreliable and unpopular with their own people. Given this, the better question is whether the resources that we have already ploughed into Afghanistan, and those that would be required in the medium to long term, could be better spent elsewhere. They most certainly could be. More important still is the question of whether the mission is essential to American national security interests — a necessary component of a broader strategy to degrade al-Qaeda's capacity for carrying out another terrorist attack in America. Or has it become an interest in itself? (That is, we must win the war because it is the war we are in.) Judging from most of the contemporary commentary, it has become the latter. This explains why our war aims have expanded to the point where they are serving ends unrelated to our core security interests. The current strategy in Afghanistan is flawed. Population centric counterinsurgency (COIN) amounts to large-scale social engineering. The costs in blood and treasure that we would have to incur to accomplish this mission — in addition to what we have already paid — are not outweighed by the benefits, even if we accept the most optimistic estimates as to the likelihood of success. It is also unnecessary. We do not need a long-term, large-scale presence to disrupt al-Qaeda. Indeed, that limited aim has largely been achieved. The physical safe haven that al-Qaeda once enjoyed in Afghanistan has been disrupted, but it could be recreated in dozens of other ungoverned spaces around the world — from Pakistan to Yemen to Somalia. The claim that Afghanistan is uniquely suited to hosting would-be terrorists does not withstand close scrutiny. Nor does fighting terrorism require over 100,000 foreign troops building roads and bridges, digging wells and crafting legal codes. Indeed, our efforts to convince, cajole or compel our ungrateful clients to take ownership of their problems might do more harm than good. Building capacity without destroying the host nation's will to act has always proved difficult. This fact surely annoys most Americans, who have grown tired of fighting other people's wars and building other people's countries. It is little surprise, then, that a war that once enjoyed overwhelming public support has lost its lustre. Polls show that a majority of Americans would like to see the mission drawn to a close. The war is even less popular within the European countries that are contributing troops to the effort. You go to war with the electorate you have, not the electorate you wished you had. But while the public's waning appetite for the war in Afghanistan poses a problem for our current strategy, Hamid Karzai poses a greater one. Advocates of COIN explain ad nauseam that the success of these missions depends upon a reliable local partner, something that Mr Karzai is not. Efforts to build support around his government are likely to fail. An individual who lacks legitimacy in the eyes of his people does not gain from the perception that he is a foreign puppet. Mr Karzai is caught in a Catch-22. His ham-fisted efforts to distance himself from the Obama administration have eroded support for him in America without boosting his standing in Afghanistan. America and its allies must narrow their focus in Afghanistan. Rather than asking if the war is winnable, we should ask instead if the war is worth winning. And we should look for alternative approaches that do not require us to transform what is a deeply divided, poverty stricken, tribal-based society into a self-sufficient, cohesive and stable electoral democracy. If we start from the proposition that victory is all that matters, we are setting ourselves up for ruin. We can expect an endless series of calls to plough still more resources — more troops, more civilian experts and more money, much more money — into Afghanistan. Such demands demonstrate a profound misunderstanding of the public's tolerance for an open-ended mission with ill-defined goals. More importantly, a disdain for a focused strategy that balances ends, ways and means betrays an inability to think strategically about the range of challenges facing America today. After having already spent more than eight and a half years in Afghanistan, pursuing a win-at-all-costs strategy only weakens our ability to deal with other security challenges elsewhere in the world.

Extended commitment overstretches the military and undermines US leadership status against its rivals

[Tom, fellow at The Nation Institute, Teaching Fellow at the Graduate School of Journalism @ UC Berkeley, “Obama Starting to Sound Like Bush,” April 1, Mother Jones, | VP – Italics in original]

Starting with that bomber’s jacket, the event had a certain eerie similarity to George W. Bush’s visits to Iraq. As Bush once swore that we would never step down until the Iraqis had stepped up, so Obama declared his war to be “absolutely essential.” General Mohammad Zahir Azimi, a spokesman for the Afghan Defense Ministry, even claimed that the president had used the long-absent (but patented) Bush word “victory” in his meeting with Hamid Karzai. Above all, whatever the talk about beginning to draw down his surge troops in mid-2011 – and he has so far committed more than 50,000 American troops to that country – when it comes to the Afghan War, the president seemed to signal that we are still on Pentagon time. Particularly striking was his assurance that, while there would be “difficult days ahead… we also know this: The United States of America does not quit once it starts on something… [T]he American armed services does not quit, we keep at it, we persevere, and together with our partners we will prevail. I am absolutely confident of that.” He assured his listeners, and assumedly Americans at home, that we will “finish the job” (however undefined), and made another promise as well: “I’m looking forward,” he told the troops, “to returning to Afghanistan many times in the years to come.” Many times in the years to come. Think about that and fasten your seatbelt. The U.S. evidently isn’t about to leave Afghanistan anytime soon. The president seems to have set his watch to the Pentagon’s clock, which means that, in terrible financial times, he is going to continue investing staggering sums of our money long-term in a perilous war in a distant land with terrible supply lines and no infrastructure. This represents a perfect Paul Kennedy-style working definition of “imperial overstretch.” Contrast this with the China-on-the-move that Michael Klare, TomDispatch regular and author of Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet describes here. If the world “folly” doesn’t come to mind, what does?

Military overstretch is the most probable scenario for collapse of US primacy

[Christopher, Robert M. Gates Chair in Intelligence and Nat’l Security at the George H.W. Bush School of Gov’t and Public Service @ Texas A&M U, “The Waning of U.S. Hegemony – Myth or Reality?” International Security, Volume 34, Number 1, Summer, MUSE ]

U.S. strategic retrenchment would enable rising powers to significantly narrow the current military gap between them and the United States. Brooks and Wohlforth argue that the rise of a single peer competitor capable of challenging the United States globally is unlikely. They overlook, however, other geopolitical mechanisms that can bring U.S. primacy to an end. At the turn of the twentieth century, Britain’s hegemony ended because London lacked the resources to cope with the simultaneous challenges mounted by regional great powers to its interests in Europe, Asia, and North America and also to deal with wars of empire such as the Boer War—not because it was challenged by a single great power globally. In coming years, there is a good chance that an increasingly overstretched United States could see its hegemony overthrown by a similar process.

Military overstretch kills readiness

Lolita C. Baldor, February 20, 2009, “Report casts doubt on military's readiness: Strains from long, repeated tours are cited” , Associated Press,

WASHINGTON - For the third consecutive year, a classified Pentagon assessment has concluded there is a significant risk that the US military could not respond quickly and fully to any new crisis, the Associated Press has learned. The latest risk assessment, drawn up by Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, comes despite recent security gains in Iraq and plans for troop cuts there. The assessment finds that the United States continues to face persistent terrorist threats, and the military is still stretched and strained from long and repeated tours to the warfront. Senior military officials spoke about the report on condition of anonymity because it is a classified document. Prepared every year, and routinely delivered to Congress with the budget, the risk assessment paints a broad picture of the security threats and hot spots around the world and the military's ability to deal with them. Mullen has delivered it to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates. Because the threat is rated as significant, Gates will send an accompanying report to Congress outlining what the military is doing to address the risks. That report has not been finished. This year's assessment finds many of the same global security issues as previous years - ranging from terrorist organizations and unstable governments to the potential for high-tech cyber attacks. It also reflects the Pentagon's ongoing struggle to maintain a military that can respond to threats from other countries, while honing newer counterinsurgency techniques to battle more unconventional dangers, such as suicide bombers and lethal roadside bombs. Daniel Goure, vice president of the Lexington Institute, a military policy research group in Arlington, Va., said the assessment would take into account the strains on the force, the wear and tear on aircraft and other military equipment, and a host of global flashpoints. "This is a chairman who looks around the world and sees - right now, today - immediate, near-term problems like North Korea, the larger questions of Pakistan and its future, Iran and what is going on there, Russia and Georgia, Venezuela, which has a close relationship with Russia and is buying arms all over the place, and Cuba," Goure said. While officials are preparing to reduce troop levels in Iraq, they are increasing their forces in Afghanistan - giving troops little break from their battlefield tours. The Pentagon has repeatedly stressed ongoing efforts to increase the size of the Army and Marine Corps, but that growth is only now starting to have an impact. There are 146,000 US troops in Iraq and 38,000 in Afghanistan - 19,000 in the NATO-led force and 19,000 fighting insurgents and training Afghan forces. One senior military official said that while there have been security gains in Iraq, military units leaving there have been sapped by repeated war tours that have also battered their equipment and vehicles. It will take time to restore the force and repair or replace the equipment. In other cases, equipment has been left in Iraq for use by the steadily growing Iraqi security forces. Two years ago, then-Joint Chiefs Chairman Peter Pace raised the risk level from moderate to significant, pointing to an overall decline in military readiness that he said would take several years to correct. A year later, Mullen maintained that risk level, saying that strains on the military, persistent terrorist activity, and other threats had prevented the Pentagon from improving its ability to respond to any new crises. Last year, Gates listed increased intelligence gathering as a key need to address military shortfalls. Since then, the Pentagon has steadily increased its inventory of unmanned aircraft, boosting the number of 24-hour unmanned air patrols over the Iraq and Afghanistan battlefront from 24 to 33.

This collapse of military readiness will encourage hostile rivals and risk total collapse of U.S. primacy
Perry 06 Professor of Management Science and Engineering at Stanford University and Former U.S. Secretary of Defense [William J., “The U.S. Military: Under Strain and at Risk” National Security Magazine May]
Since the end of World War II, a core element of U.S. strategy has been maintaining a military capable of deterring and, if necessary, defeating aggression in more than one theater at a time. As a global power with global interests, the United States must be able to deal with challenges to its interests in multiple regions of the world simultaneously. Today, however, the United States has only limited ground force capability ready to respond outside the Afghan and Iraqi theaters of operations. If the Army were ordered to send significant forces to another crisis today, its only option would be to deploy units at readiness levels far below what operational plans would require – increasing the risk to the men and women being sent into harm’s way and to the success of the mission. As stated rather blandly in one DoD presentation, the Army “continues to accept risk” in its ability to respond to crises on the Korean Peninsula and elsewhere. Although the United States can still deploy air, naval, and other more specialized assets to deter or respond to aggression, the visible overextension of our ground forces has the potential to significantly weaken our ability to deter and respond to some contingencies.

(Impact to Primacy)

Withdrawal preserves primacy for the long term – a strategy of selective engagement preserves US power for matters of global security

[Robert J., Christian A. Herter Prof. Int’l Relations @ Brandeis U, “The Strategy of Selective Engagement,” in The Use of Force: Military Power and International Politics, edited by Robert J. Art and Kenneth M. Waltz, pp. 345-6 |]

I believe not and think selective engagement preferable to isolationism on four grounds: First, today's isolationists do not embrace all six national interests prescribed above, whereas selective engagers embrace them all. For example, isolationists maintain relative indifference to nuclear spread, and some of them even believe that it may be beneficial because it reduces the probability of war. They assert that America's overseas economic interests no longer require the pro­jection of American military power, and see no great stake in keeping Persian Gulf reserves divided among several powers. To the extent that they believe a deep peace among the Eurasian great powers is important to the United States, they hold that offshore balancing (keeping all American troops in the United States) is as effective as onshore balancing (keeping American forces deployed forward in Eurasia at selected points) and safer. Indeed, most isolationists are pre­pared to use American military power to defend only two vital American inter­ests: repelling an attack on the American homeland and preventing a great‑power hegemon from dominating Eurasia. As a consequence, they can justifiably be called the most selective of selective engagers. Second, isolationism forgoes the opportunity to exploit the full peacetime political utility of America's alliances and forward‑deployed forces to shape events to its advantage. Isolationism's general approach is to cope with events after they have turned adverse rather than to prevent matters from turning adverse in the first place. Thus, even though it does not eschew the use of force, isola­tionism remains at heart a watching and reactive strategy, not, like selective engagement, a precautionary and proactive one. Third, isolationism makes more difficult the warlike use of America's military power, when that is required, because it forgoes peacetime forward deployment. This provides the United States with valuable bases, staging areas, intelligence­gathering facilities, in‑theater training facilities, and most important, close allies with whom it continuously trains and exercises. These are militarily significant advantages and constitute valuable assets if war needs to be waged. Should the United States have to go to war with an isolationist strategy in force, however, these assets would need to be put together under conditions ranging from less than auspicious to emergency‑like. Isolationism thus makes war waging more dif­ficult than it need be. Fourth, isolationism is not as balanced and diversified a strategy as is selec­tive engagement and not as good a hedge against risk and uncertainty. Selective engagement achieves balance and diversity from its hybrid nature: it borrows the good features from its six competitors but endeavors to avoid their pitfalls and excesses. Like isolationism, selective engagement is wary of the risks of military entanglement overseas, but unlike isolationism, it believes that some entangle­ments either lower the chances of war or are necessary to protect important Amer­ican interests even at the risk of war. Unlike collective security, selective engage­ment does not assume that peace is indivisible, but like collective security, it believes in operating multilaterally in military operations wherever possible to spread the burdens and risks, and asserts that standing alliances make such oper­ations easier to organize and more successful when undertaken. Unlike global containment, selective engagement does not believe current conditions require a full‑court press against any great power, but like regional containment, it knows that balancing against an aspiring regional hegemon requires the sustained coop­eration of the other powers in the area and that such cooperation is not sustain­able without a visible American military presence. Unlike dominion, selective engagement does not seek to dominate others, but like dominion, it understands the power and influence that America’s military primacy brings. Finally, like cooperative security, selective engagement seeks transparency in military rela­tions, reductions in armaments, and the control of NBC spread, but unlike coop­erative security, it does not put full faith in the reliability of collective security or defensive defense should these laudable aims fail.Compared to selective engagement, isolationism is less balanced because it is less diversified. It allows standing military coalitions to crumble, forsakes for­ward deployment, and generally eschews attempts to control the armaments of the other great and not‑so‑great powers. Isolationism’s outstanding virtue is that it achieves complete freedom for the United States to act or not to act whenever it sees fit, but the freedom comes at a cost: the loss of a diversified approach. Most isolationists, of course, are prepared to trade balance and diversity for complete freedom of action, because they see little worth fighting for (save for the two interests enumerated above), because they judge that prior military commitments are not necessary to protect them, and because they calculate that alliances will only put the United States in harm’s way.In sum, selective engagement is a hedging strategy; isolationism is not. To hedge is to make counterbalancing investments in order to avoid or lessen loss. Selective engagement makes hedging bets (primarily through alliances and over­seas basing), because it does not believe that the international environment, absent America’s precommitted stance and forward presence, will remain benign to Amer­ica’s interests, as apparently does isolationism. An isolationist America in the sense defined above would help produce a more dangerous and less prosperous world; an internationalist America, a more peaceful and prosperous one, As a consequence, engagement rejects the free hand for the selectively committed hand. Thus, for these four reasons the goals it posits, its proactive stance, its warfighting advan¬tages, and its hedging approach selective engagement beats isolationism.

Contention Three is Afghan conflict:

A. Nation building fails
Afghanistan is one the brink of systemic collapse. The US commitment to nation-building provokes conflict by imposing a one-size-fits-all approach on a fractured state
[Max, Assoc. Editor – foreign affairs and nat’l security, The Atlantic, “Can Warlords Save Afghanistan?” November 18,]
President Obama has made it clear that any strategy he commits to in Afghanistan must stabilize the country while accounting for our exit. But a very significant hurdle stands in the way: the notorious weakness of Afghanistan's police and military. Of the troop-level plans Obama has reportedly considered, even the smallest emphasizes training and assistance for Afghan forces. After all, for us to leave, Afghan institutions must be able to replace the 100,000 foreign troops currently providing security. This makes building a massive, national Afghan military one of our top priorities in the region. Critics of this plan say the Afghan military is hopelessly disorganized, ill-equipped and corrupt. Supporters say it's crucial to our success. But there may be another way. Bolstering the Afghan military carries significant risks. Given how illegitimate Afghan President Hamid Karzai's government is perceived to be by Afghans, a Karzai-led army would be poorly received and perhaps worsen anti-government sentiment. If a national Afghanistan army has a fraction of the national government's corruption, it could inspire disastrous backlash. Under Karzai's corrupt governance, the application of a national security force would wax and wane with political whims. With no personal stake in security outside Kabul, would Karzai really risk his resources and military strength to counter every threat or pacify every skirmish? Afghanistan has not been a stable, unified state with a strong centralized government in three decades. The cultural and political institutions for a single national force may simply no longer exist. But Afghanistan, owing in part to necessity and in part to the tumultuous processes that have shaped the country, retains functional, if weak, security infrastructure at the provincial level. In the post-Soviet power vacuum and throughout periods of civil war, warlords arose to lead local militias. Many of them still remain in place--they were among our strongest allies in routing the Taliban's hold on the government--and have settled into more stationary roles somewhere between warlord and governor. Local rule has become the Afghan way. Local leaders who operate their own provincial forces, after all, stake their very lives on the security of their realm. By working with these leaders to establish and train local militias and police, rather than troubled and mistrusted national forces, the U.S. could find its route to Afghan stability and exit. In parts of Afghanistan, strong provincial leadership has already developed security separate from national leadership. In the relatively peaceful and prosperous northern region of Mazar-E-Sharif, Governor Atta Mohammad Noor, himself a former warlord who fought against the Soviets and Taliban, commands authority rivaling that of President Karzai. Unlike Karzai, Noor is popular among his constituents and his province enjoys remarkable stability. The local military officials are loyal to him before Karzai, if they are loyal to Karzai at all. By promoting local governance and directing our military training and assistance to forces loyal to that governance, the U.S. could promote other strong provincial leaders like Noor. Like Noor, many of these are likely to be former or current warlords. Warlords, despite their scary name, can be our strongest allies. They tend to be non-ideological and fervently anti-Taliban. Their fates are tied to the local populaces they govern. They're corrupt and tax heavily, but they provide real security and are trusted. Their ambitions are not for anti-Western war or fundamentalism, but sovereignty, security, and domination. None of these men is Thomas Jefferson, but in a country of many evil and exploitative forces, they are the best that Afghan civilians or American forces are likely to get. Just as important, local security forces would better suit the region they protect, with more religious militias in the devout south and east but conventional police in the secular north. As General Stanley McChrystal, the top commander in Afghanistan, wrote in his much-discussed report calling for more troops, "Focusing on force or resource requirements misses the point entirely." He insisted that Afghans' "needs, identities and grievances vary from province to province and from valley to valley." A national security force would struggle to overcome the inevitable Goldilocks problem: Either it would be too secular for the south and east or too religious for the north but never just right. After all, the Taliban's initial support came in part from Afghans who desperately wanted religious rule. Though we may find the idea of supporting Islamic militias discomforting, forcing secular rule would risk another Taliban-like uprising. Better, perhaps, to establish local Islamic governance that is religious enough to satisfy the populace it serves but moderate enough to resist the Taliban. The U.S. is already enacting a micro variant of this strategy by hiring and arming locals to provide security. The informal militiamen must come from within 50 km of their deployment site, which in addition to providing local jobs (Afghanistan's unemployment rate is a catastrophic 40%) also deters insurgents, who would be less likely to attack a familiar neighbor than a foreign invader. The principles that make this so effective would also apply to a larger, standing provincial force.

In particular, the commitment to Karzai dooms hope for success. His state is beholden to corrupt interests
[Peter W., former UN Secretary-General's Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan, first US Ambassador to Croatia where he mediated the 1995 Erdut Agreement that ended the Croation war, "The opposition's opening remarks," in the Economist Debates: Afghanistan, May 17, | VP]
The war in Afghanistan is not winnable because America does not have a credible Afghan partner and there is no prospect that one will emerge. America is pursuing a counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan and, as General Stanley McChrystal observes, the centre of gravity in counterinsurgency is the people. Although American forces can outfight the poorly equipped Taliban (when they can be found), America and its allies cannot defeat the insurgency without the support of the Afghan people. Thus the essential element of American strategy is an Afghan government that enjoys the loyalty of enough Afghans to turn the population against the insurgents. Such a government does not exist. President Hamid Karzai has been in office since 2002, when he was installed with the support of the Bush administration following the fall of the Taliban. In eight years, he has run a government so ineffective that Afghans deride him as being no more than the mayor of Kabul and so corrupt that his country ranks 179 on Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index, just ahead of last-placed Somalia, which has no government at all. To make matters worse, Mr Karzai is now in office as a result of an election that he himself admits was massively fraudulent. In 2009, the Karzai-appointed Afghan Independent Election Commission (IEC) rigged the elections so that Mr Karzai ended up with at least 1m phoney votes, or one-third of his total votes. (After a separate, independently appointed, Electoral Complaints Commission eventually rejected enough Karzai votes to force a second round, the IEC adopted procedures to produce an even more fraud-prone second round and the runner up, Abdullah Abdullah, chose not to participate.) Many Afghans do not see Mr Karzai as a democratically elected leader. Thus, in addition to being corrupt and ineffective, the government that is the keystone of American strategy also suffers from a legitimacy deficit. Over the past eight years, the military situation has worsened year by year. It is unrealistic to expect Mr Karzai, who has a track record of ineffectiveness and corruption now compounded by illegitimacy, to reform. There is also no indication that he wants to reform. At the beginning of April, he responded to pressure from the Obama administration by blaming the UN and America for the 2009 election fraud and said he might join the Taliban. This led many Afghans and some Americans (myself included) to question his mental stability. During last week's visit to the White House nothing but nice words were exchanged in public, but this was almost certainly because of the administration's concern that Mr Karzai's antics were undercutting public support for the war, not any new-found confidence in the Afghan leader. Afghanistan's problems extend far beyond Mr Karzai. Tens of billions of dollars have been spent on recruiting and training an Afghan police force with little to show for it. Some 80% of recruits are illiterate and a significant number are drug users. The standard eight-week training course is far too short to produce qualified police, especially since some time is necessarily devoted to teaching survival skills and even basic hygiene. A much longer course might produce better-trained Afghans, but the graduates would then probably not want to be police in a country where, in certain provinces, one in ten is killed each year. American troops can clear the Taliban from an area. But if the Taliban are to be kept away, American efforts must be followed by Afghan soldiers to provide security and Afghan police to provide law and order. Most important, an Afghan government must provide honest administration and win the loyalty of the population. While there has been progress in building an army, this is largely not the case with the police. And there is no prospect that Mr Karzai's corrupt, ineffective and illegitimate government can win the loyalty of the population. There are still missions that can be accomplished in Afghanistan. These include protecting the non-Pashtun areas from Taliban infiltration (the Taliban movement is almost entirely Pashtun), keeping Kabul relatively secure and striking at terrorists. These missions do not depend on an honest Afghan government and require just a small fraction of the troops now committed to the war. There is a legitimate debate as to how important Afghanistan is to western interests. There is, however, no need to resolve this question to know that it makes no sense to commit valuable national security resources to a counterinsurgency effort that will not succeed. As long as victory is defined as the defeat of the Taliban insurgency, the war in Afghanistan is not winnable.

Distrust all arguments for continuation of the nation building project – their claims mimic the arguments that condemned the US to long-term failure in Vietnam
Gian P. , Gian P. Gentile is a serving Army officer and has a PhD in history from Stanford University. In 2006, he commanded a combat battalion in West Baghdad, July 6th , “Petraeus's impossible mission in Afghanistan: armed nation-building; The US can't build society at the barrel of a gun, but it can hunt Al Qaeda in Afghanistan.” , The Christian Science Monitor, Lexis-Nexis
The problem in Afghanistan isn't poor generalship, nor is it any uncertainty about the basics of counterinsurgency doctrine by the US Army and the US Marines - they "get it." Better generals in Afghanistan will not solve the problem. The recently relieved commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, was put in place because he was the better general of counterinsurgency, sent there to rescue the failed mission. Now we've placed our hopes in an even better general, his successor, Gen. David Petraeus. But no one, no matter how brilliant, can achieve the impossible. And the problem in Afghanistan is the impossibility of the mission. The United States is pursuing a nation-building strategy with counterinsurgency tactics - that is, building a nation at the barrel end of a gun. Might armed nation-building work in Afghanistan? Sure, but history shows that it would take a very, very long time for a foreign occupying power to succeed. Are we willing to commit to such a generational effort, not just for mere months or years? The US military tried to do nation-building in Vietnam with major combat forces from 1965 to 1972. It failed because that mission was impossible, too. Muddled strategic thinking, however, caused Washington to commit to a major military effort in South Vietnam when its vital strategic interests did not demand such a maximalist effort. The war was simply not winnable based on a moral and material cost that the American people were willing to pay. Yet once Washington committed itself to Vietnam, it failed to see in the closing years that the war was lost. Instead it doggedly pursued an irrelevant strategy that got thousands more US soldiers killed. Afghanistan today eerily looks more and more like Vietnam.

Continuation of US presence polarizes and exacerbates regional conflicts. Commitment to nation-building provokes the civil war it’s meant to prevent
[Astri, Chr. Michelsen Institute, the eighth annual Anthony Hyman memorial lecture, School of Oriental and Africa Studies - U of London, "The Case for a Light Footprint: The international project in Afghanistan," March 17, ]
The insurgency has had a multiplier effect on the contradictions of the state-building project. The war has produced demands for more and faster results, and hence for more external control and greater presence. Military objectives and institutions are favoured in the reconstruction. Increasing warfare and Western presence undermines the legitimacy of the government. These pressures created counter-pressures which sharpen the tensions. What, then, can be done? What are the policy implications of this analysis? There are basically two courses of action. One is to add sufficient foreign capital, expertise and forces to in effect overcome the contradictions. The foreign presence would be there for the very long haul and take an overtly direct role in decision-making; in effect, institute ‘shared sovereignty’. This course of action has been tried, albeit on a modest scale, for the past eight years of gradually deepening involvement, culminating in the military and civilian surge announced by President Barack Obama in December 2009. The results have not been convincing. A more radical version of the same policy, entailing resources on a scale that might bring the achievement of the intervention’s stated objectives within reach, is likely to meet political resistance in the Western countries as well as in Afghanistan. The logical alternative is to place greater reliance on the Afghan government to deal with the problems of both the insurgency and the reconstruction. A reduction in the international presence would at least reduce the associated tensions and contradictions discussed above. This course of action also entails difficulties and conflicts. Any Afghan government has to face the problems of a mounting insurgency, a fragmented society, a deeply divided polity and a complex regional context. Nevertheless, to take only the insurgency, it is clear that in large part it is driven by local conflict over land, water and local power, particularly between the tribes and solidarity groups that were pushed out in 2001 and those who seized power after 200l. Such conflicts can better be addressed without a deeply disturbing foreign military presence. The often-cited fear that a NATO military withdrawal will spark renewed civil war between regional and ethnic factions is more influenced by the memory of the previous civil war in the 1990s than by an assessment of current regional-ethnic relations. Importantly, many faction leaders today have strong economic and political interests in the status quo. A NATO withdrawal, moreover, is unlikely to be total and sudden. Maintaining a residual international force in Kabul would help prevent a repeat of the civil war that occurred in the 1990s, which was fought over control of the capital. Overall, it seems that a gradual reduction in the prominent Western presence may give space for national and regional forces to explore compromises and a regional balance of power that will permit the development of a less violent reconstruction of the state and economy in Afghanistan. By early 2010, this seemed to be the way developments were going.

[insert Afghan conflict impact – preferably one that emphasizes the large US role]

B. Pakistan
Large-scale counterinsurgency strategy incites backlash, driving conflict across the border. Decentralization of conflict prevents the spillover to regional war
Andrew J. Bacevich, Bacevich is professor of history and international relations at Boston University, and the author, most recently, of "The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism.", December 31, 2008,Winning In Afghanistan; Victory there won't look like you think. Time to get out and give up on nation building.”, News Week, Lexis-Nexis
In Afghanistan today, the United States and its allies are using the wrong means to vigorously pursue the wrong mission. Persisting on the present course—as both John McCain and Barack Obama have promised to do—will turn Operation Enduring Freedom into Operation Enduring Obligation. Afghanistan will become a sinkhole consuming resources neither the U.S. military nor the U.S. government can afford to waste. (Story continued below...) The allied campaign in Afghanistan is now entering its eighth year. The operation was launched with expectations of a quick, decisive victory but has failed to accomplish that objective. Granted, the diversion of resources to the misguided war in Iraq has forced commanders in Afghanistan to make do with less. Yet that doesn't explain the lack of progress. The real problem is that Washington has misunderstood the nature of the challenge Afghanistan poses and misread America's interests there. One of history's enduring lessons is that Afghans don't appreciate it when outsiders tell them how to govern their affairs—just ask the British or the Soviets. U.S. success in overthrowing the Taliban seemed to suggest this lesson no longer applied, at least to Americans. That quickly proved an illusion. external image C:%5CUsers%5CZack%5CAppData%5CLocal%5CTemp%5Cmsohtmlclip1%5C01%5Cclip_image001.gifIn Iraq, toppling the old order was easy. Installing a new one to take its place has turned out to be infinitely harder. Yet the challenges of pacifying Afghanistan dwarf those posed by Iraq. Afghanistan is a much bigger country—nearly the size of Texas—and has a larger population that's just as fractious. Moreover, unlike Iraq, Afghanistan possesses almost none of the prerequisites of modernity; its literacy rate, for example, is 28 percent, barely a third of Iraq's. In terms of effectiveness and legitimacy, the government in Kabul lags well behind Baghdad—not exactly a lofty standard. Apart from opium, Afghans produce almost nothing the world wants. While liberating Iraq may have seriously reduced the reservoir of U.S. power, fixing Afghanistan would drain it altogether. Meanwhile, the chief effect of allied military operations there so far has been not to defeat the radical Islamists but to push them across the Pakistani border. As a result, efforts to stabilize Afghanistan are contributing to the destabilization of Pakistan, with potentially devastating implications. September's bombing of the Marriott hotel in Islamabad suggests that the extremists are growing emboldened. Today and for the foreseeable future, no country poses a greater potential threat to U.S. national security than does Pakistan. To risk the stability of that nuclear-armed state in the vain hope of salvaging Afghan-istan would be a terrible mistake. All this means that the proper U.S. priority for Afghanistan should be not to try harder but to change course. The war in Afghanistan (like the Iraq War) won't be won militarily. It can be settled—however imperfectly—only through politics. The new U.S. president needs to realize that America's real political objective in Afghanistan is actually quite modest: to ensure that terrorist groups like Al Qaeda can't use it as a safe haven for launching attacks against the West. Accomplishing that won't require creating a modern, cohesive nation-state. U.S. officials tend to assume that power in Afghanistan ought to be exercised from Kabul. Yet the real influence in Afghanistan has traditionally rested with tribal leaders and warlords. Rather than challenge that tradition, Washington should work with it. Offered the right incentives, warlords can accomplish U.S. objectives more effectively and more cheaply than Western combat battalions. The basis of U.S. strategy in Afghanistan should therefore become decentralization and outsourcing, offering cash and other emoluments to local leaders who will collaborate with the United States in excluding terrorists from their territory. This doesn't mean Washington should blindly trust that warlords will become America's loyal partners. U.S. intelligence agencies should continue to watch Afghanistan closely, and the Pentagon should crush any jihadist activities that local powers fail to stop themselves. As with the Israelis in Gaza, periodic airstrikes may well be required to pre-empt brewing plots before they mature. Were U.S. resources unlimited and U.S. interests in Afghanistan more important, upping the ante with additional combat forces might make sense. But U.S. power—especially military power—is quite limited these days, and U.S. priorities lie elsewhere. Rather than committing more troops, therefore, the new president should withdraw

(Card Continues…)

them while devising a more realistic—and more affordable—strategy for Afghanistan.

Continued instability risks a nuclear Pakistan

Paul K. Kerr and Mary Beth Nikitin, Analysts in Nonproliferation, February 23, 2010 “Pakistan’s Nuclear Weapons: Proliferation and Security Issues”

Chronic political instability in Pakistan and the current offensive against the Taliban in the
northwest of the country have called attention to the issue of the security of the country’s nuclear
weapons. Some observers fear that Pakistan’s strategic nuclear assets could be obtained by
terrorists, or used by elements in the Pakistani government. Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Admiral Michael Mullen described U.S. concern about the matter during a September 22, 2008,
speech: To the best of my ability to understand it—and that is with some ability—the weapons there
are secure. And that even in the change of government, the controls of those weapons haven't
changed. That said, they are their weapons. They're not my weapons. And there are limits to
what I know. Certainly at a worst-case scenario with respect to Pakistan, I worry a great deal
about those weapons falling into the hands of terrorists and either being proliferated or
potentially used. And so, control of those, stability, stable control of those weapons is a key
concern. And I think certainly the Pakistani leadership that I've spoken with on both the military and civilian side understand that.U.S. officials continue to be concerned about the existential threat posed by nuclear weapons in a destabilized Pakistan. General David H. Petraeus, Commander, U.S. Central Command, testified March 31, 2009, that “Pakistani state failure would provide transnational terrorist groups and other extremist organizations an opportunity to acquire nuclear weapons and a safe haven from which to plan and launch attacks.”

Pakistan use of nuclear weapons escalates into East Asian nuclear holocaust

Helen Caldicott, Founder, Physicians for Social Responsibility, THE NEW NUCLEAR DANGER, 2002, p. xii.

The use of Pakistani nuclear weapons could trigger a chain reaction. Nuclear-armed India, an ancient enemy, could respond in kind. China, India's hated foe, could react if India used her nuclear weapons, triggering a nuclear holocaust on the subcontinent. If any of either Russia or America's 2, 250 strategic weapons on hair-trigger alert were launched either accidentally or purposefully in response, nuclear winter would ensue, meaning the end of most life on earth.

And East Asian Nuclear war - would kill millions

Graham, et al. 2008 –(Bob Graham, Jim Talent, Graham Allison, Robin Cleveland, Steve Rademaker, Tim Roemer, Wendy Sherman, Henry Sokolski, and Rich Verma, The report brought together a staff of more than two dozen professionals and subject matter experts from across the national security,intelligence, and law enforcement communities. It interviewed more than 250 government officials and nongovernmental experts, The research included results from Sandia National Laboratory in New Mexico to London to Vienna. The writers of the report also traveled to Moscow to assess U.S. nuclear cooperation initiatives with Russia. “World At Risk, The Report of the Commission on the Prevention of WMD Proliferation and Terrorism”, Fox News, 2008,

At the same time, we cannot lose sight of concerns regarding the spread of nuclear weapons. Since the United States exploded the first nuclear bomb in 1945, seven additional states are known or suspected to have joined the nuclear weapons club: Russia, China, the United Kingdom, France, Israel, India, and Pakistan. In addition, South Africa built six nuclear weapons in the 1980s and dismantled them just before power was transferred to the post-apartheid government. North Korea conducted a nuclear weapons test in 2006, thus becoming the first country to have ratified the NPT and then break out of it by producing a nuclear weapon. In the past several years, the United States and Russia have significantly reduced their arsenals of nuclear weapons, while Pakistan, India, and China have been increasing their nuclear capabilities and reliance upon nuclear weapons in their strategic postures. The emergence of this new kind of arms race in Asia raises the prospect of a nuclear war whose effects would be catastrophic both regionally and globally. Analysts estimate that a nuclear exchange between India and Pakistan that targets cities would kill millions of people and injure millions more. The risk of a nuclear war between the two neighbors is serious, given their ongoing dispute over Kashmir and the possibility that terrorist attacks by Pakistani militant groups might ignite a military confrontation.

C. Solvency

US withdrawal spurs decentralization – it’s sufficient to prevent terrorism and limits the risk of escalation
Richard N. Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, is the author of War of Necessity, War of Choice: A Memoir of Two Iraq Wars, July 18, 2010, “We’re Not Winning. It’s Not Worth It. Here’s how to draw down in Afghanistan.” , Lexis-Nexis
So what should the resident decide? The best way to answer this question is to return to what the United States seeks to accomplish in Afghanistan and why. The two main American goals are to prevent Al Qaeda from reestablishing a safe haven and to make sure that Afghanistan does not undermine the stability of Pakistan. We are closer to accomplishing both goals than most people realize. CIA Director Leon Panetta recently estimated the number of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan to be "60 to 100, maybe less." It makes no sense to maintain 100,000 troops to go after so small an adversary, especially when Al Qaeda operates on this scale in a number of countries. Such situations call for more modest and focused policies of counterterrorism along the lines of those being applied in Yemen and Somalia, rather than a full-fledged counterinsurgency effort. Pakistan is much more important than Afghanistan given its nuclear arsenal, its much larger population, the many terrorists on its soil, and its history of wars with India. But Pakistan's future will be determined far more by events within its borders than those to its west. The good news is that the Army shows some signs of understanding that Pakistan's own Taliban are a danger to the country's future, and has begun to take them . All this argues for reorienting U.S. Afghan policy toward decentralization--providing greater support for local leaders and establishing a new approach to the Taliban. The war the United States is now fighting in Afghanistan is not succeeding and is not worth waging in this way. The time has come to scale back U.S. objectives and sharply reduce U.S. involvement on the ground. Afghanistan is claiming too many American lives, requiring too much attention, and absorbing too many resources. The sooner we accept that Afghanistan is less a problem to be fixed than a situation to be managed, the better.