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Kerry plan on Afghanistan lacks boldness: Expert

Last Updated: Thursday, October 29, 2009 - 17:37

Washington: The long-winding debate in America in formulating its new Af-Pak strategy is costing US credibility with its NATO allies and is also confusing both Afghanistan and Pakistan, a noted expert said on Thursday.
Labelling influential senator John Kerry`s plan as "lacking in boldness", noted scholar Lisa Curtis from the Heritage Foundation said he did not provide a convincing case against implementation of General McChrystal`s specific recommendations.

"Kerry rightly admitted that a US troop pullout could trigger a civil war in the country and destabilise neighbouring Pakistan.”

Kerry in his speech at the Council on Foreign Relations had criticised McChrystal`s Afghanistan assessment for going "too far, too fast," yet he failed to lay out an alternative strategy for success, Curtis said.

He also acknowledged that the costs of failure in Afghanistan are "very real. But his plan for moving forward lacks boldness and is unrealistic with regard to the ferocity of the Taliban insurgency," Curtis said.

Kerry essentially argued against McChrystal`s recommendation for a significant troop surge on the grounds that the US first needed critical guarantees of governance and development capacity, Curtis said.

"The fact is Afghans need security and protection from the Taliban insurgents before the Afghan authorities are able to deliver governance and development," she said.

Such protection will only come if the US and NATO provide sufficient troop levels for the mission, she Curtis who often testifies before Congressional committees on South

Now that Afghan President Karzai has agreed to hold a run-off election on November 7, there is the prospect of resolving the Afghan political crisis sparked by the flawed August 20th election, she said.

"The green light from Karzai should give the Obama administration the confidence to move forward with General McChrystal’s plan for increasing troop levels and implementing a population-centric counterinsurgency mission," she said.

If US leaders truly seek to "regain the initiative and reverse the Taliban’s momentum," as senator Kerry concluded should be the goal, then President Obama must adopt a realistic strategy based on facts on the ground in Afghanistan, rather than the political winds in Washington, Curtis said.

"And he must do it sooner rather than later," she said.

Bureau Report

First Published: Thursday, October 29, 2009 - 17:37
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