General David Petraeus has taken over of command of U.S. forces in Afghanistan at a time when many are questioning the success of the ongoing U.S. mission. Attacks on U.S. forces this summer have reached record highs and the number of military casualties continues to rise, while corruption remains a serious problem within the Afghan government. However, Pakistan has made progress against extremists on its side of the Afghan border and General Petraeus has built on some of the reforms initiated by General Stanley McChrystal. Afghan army forces are strengthening and signs of progress are emerging even in Afghanistan’s most challenging regions.
On August 24, Foreign Policy at Brookings hosted a discussion assessing the state of the U.S. mission and the future of international involvement in the military and civilian effort in Afghanistan. Vali Nasr, senior advisor to the special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan at the State Department and Steve Coll, president of the New America Foundation and author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Ghost Wars (Penguin Press, 2004) joined Brookings Visiting Fellow General Jehangir Karamat (Ret.), former Chief of Army Staff of the Pakistani Army and Brookings Senior Fellow Michael O’Hanlon, co-author of Toughing it Out in Afghanistan (Brookings Press, 2010). O’Hanlon discussed his new article, “Staying Power,” which appears in the current edition of Foreign Affairs.
Vice President Martin Indyk, director of Foreign Policy at Brookings, provided introductory remarks and moderated the discussion. After the program, panelists took audience questions.