Topic: Future of U.S. Foreign Policy in Afghanistan
The first phase of the Afghanistan War was the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. On October 7, 2001 the United States launched Operation Enduring Freedom, to remove the safe haven to Al-Qaeda and its use of the Afghan territory as a base of operations for terrorist activities. The aim of the invasion was to protect US national security and to find Osama bin Laden and other high-ranking al-Qaeda members to be put on trail.
Early in his presidency, Obama moved to bolster U.S. troop strength in Afghanistan. He announced an increase to U.S. troop levels of 17,000 in February 2009 to “stabilize a deteriorating situation in Afghanistan”, an area he said had not received the “strategic attention, direction and resources it urgently requires. To facilitate the use of counterinsurgency tactics in the war, On December 1, 2009, Obama announced the deployment of an additional 30,000 military personnel to Afghanistan. He also proposed to begin troop withdrawals 18 months from that date.
Despite gains toward building a stable central government, a resurgent Taliban, and continuing provincial instability – particularly in the south and the east – remain serious challenges for the Afghan Government.
The estimate for the cost of deploying one US soldier in Afghanistan is over US$1 million dollars a year. On June 22, 2011, President Obama announced that 10,000 U.S. troops would be withdrawn by the end of 2011. An additional 23,000 troops will leave the country by the summer of 2012. Canada withdrew all its troops in 2011, and other NATO countries pledged to reduce their military presence.
In the UK, prime minster David Cameron pledged to end British combat operations in Afghanistan by 2015. “I believe the country needs to know there is an end point to all of this,” he said, “so from 2015 there will not be troops in anything like the numbers now and crucially, they will not be in a combat role.”
In a covert operation, US Navy SEALs (a special operations force) and CIA operatives killed Osama Bin Laden on 2 May 2011, in his residential compound in Abottabad, Pakistan.
Al-Qaeda swore to avenge Bin Laden’s death (Links to an external site.). A statement posted on jihadist websites stated: “We will remain, God willing, a curse chasing the Americans and their agents, following them outside and inside their countries.”
Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/the_war_in_afghanistan (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.
President Obama has since stated that all U.S. troops will be out by 2014. During his 2013 State of the Union Address Barack Obama announced that 34,000 US troops will leave Afghanistan by February 2014, but did not specify what the post-2014 troop levels would be. “Beyond 2014, America’s commitment to a unified and sovereign Afghanistan will endure, but the nature of our commitment will change,” Obama said. “We’re negotiating an agreement with the Afghan government that focuses on two missions – training and equipping Afghan forces so that the country does not again slip into chaos, and counter-terrorism efforts that allow us to pursue the remnants of al-Qaeda and their affiliates,” he added. As of February 12, 2013 Barack Obama had not made a decision on the post-2014 U.S. force.
The Obama Administration intends to keep some troops in the country in 2015 and beyond, but the number is still being debated at the White House and must be approved by the Afghan government. Unnamed U.S. officials said there was a reluctance to go public with a final number of troops and a description of their missions while still in the early stage of negotiating a security agreement with the Afghans over retaining a U.S. military presence after 2014.The New York Times reported that the post-2014 force is likely to number no more than 9,000 or so troops and then get progressively smaller. The Washington Post reported that the Pentagon is pushing a plan that would keep about 8,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan in 2015, but significantly shrink the contingent over the following two years, perhaps to fewer than 1,000 by 2017, according to senior U.S. government officials and military officers.
Afghanistan and US Public Opinion:
Read and analyze November 20-22, 2009 Gallup Poll results which shows a slight increase in Americans favoring the U.S to send more troops to Afghanistan [Copy and paste URL below].
http://www.gallup.com/poll/124490/In-U.S.-More-Support-Increasing-Troops-Afghanistan.aspx (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.
Read: President Obama’s 2009 5-point strategic plan involving Afghanistan [Click on URL below]:
http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/09/03/27/A-New-Strategy-for-Afghanistan-and-Pakistan/ (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.
Read and analyze nationwide survey results on the issue of Afghanistan [See URL below]:
‘More Americans Now View Afghanistan War as a Mistake; Republicans most likely to say the war was not a mistake’
http://www.gallup.com/poll/167471/americans-view-afghanistan-war-mistake.aspx (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.
http://news.gallup.com/poll/183575/fewer-view-iraq-afghanistan-wars-mistakes.aspx (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.
See: recent Polling Report October 15-18, 2015 US poll on troops in Afghanistan;
http://www.pollingreport.com/afghan.htm (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.
During the 2016 presidential campaign Donald Trump stated that it was a mistake for the US to get involve with Afghanistan. As president, Trump has pivoted on that view, stating that the War in Afghanistan was necessary and that he supports keeping a limited number of troops in the country.
1. Discuss: Why you agree or disagree that there should be a troop increase or decrease in Afghanistan.
2. Discuss: If you agree or disagree that the Afghanistan War was a mistake or not a mistake.
Topic: Crimean Crisis of 2014
On Friday, April 25, 2014 U.S. President Barack Obama spoke as South Korean President Park Geun-hye looks on in a joint news conference at the Blue House, in Seoul, South Korea. The U.S. and Europe are laying the groundwork to sanction broad sections of Russia’s economy if Moscow invades eastern Ukraine, Obama said Friday, even as he acknowledged those sanctions may fail to deter Vladimir Putin. (Source: Associated Press)
Ukrainian (Links to an external site.) forces killed up to five pro-Moscow rebels on Thursday April 24, 2014 as they closed in on the separatists’ military stronghold in the East and Russia (Links to an external site.) launched army drills near the border in response, raising fears its troops would go in.
Under an international accord signed in Geneva last week, illegal armed groups in Ukraine, including the rebels occupying about a dozen public buildings in the largely Russian-speaking east, are supposed to disarm and go home. So far, the United States and EU have imposed visa bans and asset freezes on a few Russians in protest at Moscow’s annexation last month of Crimea from Ukraine. In NATO member Poland, the first group of a contingent of around 600 U.S. soldiers arrived on Wednesday, April 23, 2014. They are part of an effort by Washington to reassure eastern European allies who are worried by the Russian build-up near Ukraine’s borders. (Source: CNBC.com with Reuters)
For more background reading on the Crimean Crisis of 2014 read content below or go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crimean_Crisis_of_201 (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.4
The Crimean crisis is sparked by Euromaidan (Ukrainian: Євромайдан, Yevromaidan, literally “Eurosquare”) is a wave of demonstrations and civil unrest in Ukraine, which began on the night of 21 November 2013 with public protests demanding closer European integration. The scope of the protests expanded, with many calls for the resignation of President Viktor Yanukovych and his government.Many protesters joined because of the violent dispersal of protesters on 30 November and “a will to change life in Ukraine”.By 25 January 2014, the protests had been fueled by the perception of “widespread government corruption”, “abuse of power”, and “violation of human rights in Ukraine”.
[The Crimean crisis is an ongoing international crisis principally involving Russia and Ukraine. It involves the Crimean Peninsula, a multi-ethnic region which until February 2014 was administered by Ukraine as the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the administratively separate municipality of Sevastopol, both are populated by an ethnic Russian majority and a minority of both ethnic Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars. Currently, the Crimean Peninsula is administered by the Russian Federation as the Crimean Federal District.]
The Crimean crisis unfolded in late February 2014 in the aftermath of the Ukrainian Revolution, which resulted in President Viktor Yanukovych’s impeachment by the Ukrainian parliament after his flight from the capital, setting May 25 for a new presidential election, the appointment of an interim President, and the formation of an interim government. The Yatsenyuk Government attained recognition from most of the international community, including the US and EU. Russia accuses the United States and the E.U. of funding and directing the ‘revolution’ and holds that Yanukovych was illegally impeached and continues to regard him as Ukraine’s legitimate president, while considering the Yatsenyuk government illegitimate and the result of a coup d’etat.
Beginning on February 26, pro-Russian forces began to gradually take control of the Crimean peninsula. Many of them were widely believed to be Russian military personnel without insignia. While the gunmen occupied Crimea’s parliament building, the Crimean parliament voted to dismiss the Crimean government, replace its Prime Minister and to call a referendum on Crimea’s autonomy. A referendum on whether to join Russia had an official turnout of 83% and resulted in a 96.77% (Crimea) and 95.6% (Sevastopol) affirmative vote but has been condemned by the EU, the US, Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar officials as contrary to Ukraine’s constitution and to international law. On March 17, the Crimean Parliament declared independence from Ukraine and asked to join the Russian Federation. On March 18 Russia and Crimea signed a treaty of accession of the Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol into the Russian Federation.
On March 27, 2015 the UN General Assembly passed a non-binding Resolution 68/262 that declared the Crimean referendum invalid and the incorporation of Crimea into Russia illegal. On April 15, Ukrainian parliament declared Crimea as a territory temporarily occupied by Russia.
In July 2015, Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev said that Crimea had been fully integrated into Russia.
Also see: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/print/country/countrypdf_up.pdf
The Trump administration has been ambivalent about the Ukrainian-Crimea-Russian crisis in regards to who owns the territory of Crimea, whether it is Russian territory, or if Crimea is independent of Russia. Trump stated, it is a “European problem.”
Discuss: 1.What is your opinion on the US Foreign policy in Russia and Ukraine?
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