This past Saturday, the people of Afghanistan conducted what is being reported as perhaps the most successful election in the country’s history. Nearly 7 million voters — 1/3 of them women — are estimated to have gone to the polls despite threats by Taliban leaders to disrupt the democratic process through bombings and assassinations. As reported by The Economist:
Far less violence was reported than on the day of the previous presidential election, in 2009. So far as there were attacks, most voters were effectively protected from them. This is heartening for a new reason: this time the massive security operation was manned exclusively by Afghan forces.
Although it will take six weeks for the final tally to come in, it will likely result in a run-off election between front-runners Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah — and both say they will sign the bilateral security agreement (BSA) outlining the conditions for US military presence after 2014.
Now is the time for Obama to announce a specific troop level assuming the BSA is signed, as I discussed last week with DefenseOne.
Building confidence among Afghans that they will not be abandoned by the international community, officials in both the Pentagon and State Department have argued recently, is critical to avoiding a power vacuum and the chaos of civil war and a fully failed state. Gen. James Dunford, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, in his March testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee, said that a signed security deal would “address the Afghan people’s concerns and damage the Taliban’s confidence.”
Stavridis goes even further and urges the Obama administration to announce a troop commitment before the BSA is signed. “The sooner we make an announcement that, assuming the BSA is signed, we are willing to support a troop level certain, I think the better for Afghans and Afghanistan,” Stavridis said, echoing retired Gen. John Allen, former commander of U.S.forces in Afghanistan, who urged the White House last May to make a troop announcement.
As I’ve said before, the “macro picture” in Afghanistan is encouraging. This weekend’s election is no exception.
Dean Stavridis with his basset hound, Lilly.
Dean James Stavridis is the 12th leader of The Fletcher School since its founding in 1933. A retired Admiral in the U.S. Navy, he led the NATO Alliance in global operations from 2009 to 2013 as Supreme Allied Commander.
- Foreign Policy: China’s 3,000-Acre Aircraft Carriers Could Change the Balance of Power in the Pacific
- Dean’s Video: Sept 2015: “Why Fletcher?” General Joseph Dunford (MA ’92) on His Path to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs
- Media Roundup Sept 13: U.S. Needs to Be Doing More in Syrian Migrant Crisis
- Media Roundup Week of Sept 6: U.S. Must Do All It Can to Aid Syrian Crisis; Plus the Future of Guantanamo, and the Bio Revolution
- “Why Fletcher?” Small Program Size Creates Big Opportunities, LLM Graduate Joel El-Qalqili
- October 2015
- September 2015
- August 2015
- July 2015
- June 2015
- May 2015
- April 2015
- March 2015
- February 2015
- January 2015
- December 2014
- November 2014
- October 2014
- September 2014
- August 2014
- July 2014
- June 2014
- May 2014
- April 2014
- March 2014
- February 2014
- January 2014
- December 2013
- November 2013
- October 2013
- September 2013
- August 2013