Progressive Caucus Report on Afghanistan

The Congressional Progressive Caucus has released a set of
recommendations based on its series of forums on Afghanistan--the
sixth and last of which will be held Wednesday. It's releasing the
report now so its membership may consider it in deciding how to vote
on the $96 billion War Supplemental this week.

Here is a preview of just a few of the valuable recommendations in the

"Require an 80-20 ratio (political-military) with all future US funding,
with a special inspector general to monitor the implementation of this

Even Gen. Petraeus calls for this 80-20 ratio in his counterinsurgency
strategy, but a panelist on the Afghanistan Forum, Gen. Paul Eaton,
former commander of Iraq's security forces,pointed out that funding in
Afghanistan is 90 percent military.

"Require the immediate cessation of drone attacks

Many of the panelists, including Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson--Colin
Powell's former Chief of Staff -- pointed out that the high number of
civilian deaths from drone attacks creates more enemies and fuels the
insurgency rather than undermining it.

"Require UN involvement in overseeing and mandating the role of US and
international military operations.... Require any increase in US troop
presence is oriented to training and support roles for Afghan security
forces...not for US-led counterinsurgency efforts."

The report reads, "17,000 additional troops are neither sufficient to
manage the conflict nor a useful contribution because the already
deployed US/international forces are not being presently utilized." It
is worth noting that the Petraeus counterinsurgency strategy calls for
upwards of 400,000 troops. Col. Wilkerson recommended the
support/training role of any additional troops.

"Require the initiative of a dialogue process, with Saudi Arabia--who
initiated previous talks between Afghan government and ethnic/tribal
leaders--taking the lead, or with other international organization
taking the lead."

Its clear that the insurgency will not be defeated and security not
achieved until ethnic and tribal leaders are brought into the fold.

While I personally would like to see a call for immediate withdrawal of
US troops, and a sharp and smart focus on diplomatic and political
solutions to the conflict, these recommendations would improve the
current strategy of escalation that destabilizes the region and
threatens President Obama's domestic and international agenda. Kudos to
the Progressive Caucus for setting up these forums, listening to people
with a deep understanding of the issues, and putting forth
recommendations in a timely manner.

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