A Killing in Kandahar: What Ahmed Wali Karzai’s Death Means for the U.S.

A huge power vacuum has opened in southern Afghanistan with the assassination Tuesday of Ahmed Wali Karzai, Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s half brother and, fundamentally, the godfather of Kandahar. U.S. officials are debating whether he will be followed by a more benign tribal autocrat or someone alleged to be just as bad — and how …

Afghan Assassination

This is huge news, but I’m not sure what it means. Ahmed Wali Karzai was the most powerful man in southern Afghanistan. He was President Karzai’s half-brother. He was most likely a major drug lord; he was definitely on the payroll of the CIA. He was therefore an iconic figure: the embodiment of everything that has made Afghanistan a …

Petraeus and Obama

Mark Benjamin landed a good zing on General David Petraeus yesterday by flagging the 450-word cloud that resulted when the general was asked during Senate testimony whether he supports Obama’s troop-withdrawal decision. It was …

Shorter Version: “No.”

At a Senate confirmation hearing for his new gig atop the CIA, David Petraeus was asked Thursday if he supported President Obama’s drawdown timetable for Afghanistan. Mark Benjamin parses the thicket of words and argues that Petraeus’ windiness says everything you need to know about the decorated general’s opinion.

The Risk for Obama in Afghanistan

War supporter Robert Kagan posits it:

If the war is going badly in the summer and fall of 2012, it will be because of the decision the president made this week. Everyone will know he did it against the advice of his commanders. Everyone will know he did it for political reasons. So if the war is going badly a year from now, whom do you

The Outlook in Afghanistan

On our sister blog Battleland, TIME Pentagon correspondent Mark Thompson has a bracing take on the drawdown strategy for Afghanistan that President Obama articulated Wednesday night. As Mark writes:

Obama’s decision simply locks into place a U.S. drawdown that may doom all that has been achieved in Afghanistan over the past decade.

What to Look For in Obama’s Speech

As esteemed Swampland alum Mark Thompson explains, the devil is in the details:

The outlines seem clear: Obama will declare some kind of success tonight and call for the 30,000 troops he sent into Afghanistan as a “surge” force over the last 18 months to come home by the end of next year. The key question is when: will they come home

Afghanistan Speech Preview

It now seems likely that President Obama will take a modest course on withdrawal from Afghanistan, with the consensus guess that he’ll withdraw 30,000 troops by the end of the 2012 fighting season. I had hoped for a larger draw …

Reading The Afghan Draw Down Tea Leaves

President Obama spent weeks in 2009 developing an Afghan battle plan that could win consensus from his senior generals. The centerpiece was a pledge to begin drawing down troops in July 2011. But it was never clear that Obama would be able to keep the consensus as that date approached. From the beginning, many in the Pentagon, including …

The Grim French View on Afghanistan

Obama met Monday morning in the Situation Room with his national security team for his monthly assessment of the conflicts in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This month’s meeting serves to kick off several weeks of debate over the pace of the draw down of U.S. combat troops in Afghanistan, which Obama has said will start in July.


U.S. Troop Levels in Afghanistan Now in Play

The White House and Pentagon won’t admit it, but everybody else knows the size and scope of the continuing U.S. presence in Afghanistan is now subject to debate. That’s the result of a perfect storm of factors — the killing of Osama bin Laden, the weariness of the American public, and the continuing zaniness of Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Wishful Thinking in Afghanistan

Many good things may come from the death of Osama bin Laden. But the prospect that thousands of Taliban fighters will suddenly lay down their arms seems unlikely to be one of them–despite this hopeful assessment by Maj. Gen. John F. Campbell of the 101st Airborne Division:

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