Foreign Policy Chat - US in Afghanistan For 10 More Years & New Policies On Genocide

US-Afghan Agreement Is Completed

The United States and Afghanistan have finally concluded a long-term security cooperation agreement that will ensure a continued, though very limited, US presence in that country for 10 years following the troop withdrawal in 2014.  Obstacles to this agreement have been night raids by US Special Forces and the treatment and transfer of detainees. Independent and detailed negotiations on those two topics have paved the way for this larger agreement which formalizes Afghanistan's relationship with NATO, designating them as a "major non-NATO Ally." The Agreement will ensure financial support for Afghan security forces for the next 10 years in exchange for a continued military presence.

Zalmay Khalilzad took to the pages of FP earlier today arguing that this agreement has the potential to bring a number of major benefits. It creates a framework for President Obama and President Karzai to rebuild a working relationship around shared interests. It should bolster confidence in the Afghan government, helping curtail the sense of impending door which has fueled rampant corruption and capital flight. The agreement should also make it possible - though certainly not easy - to deal with the Taliban, as a continued US presence destroys their "wait it out" strategy. This assurance of ongoing American security may also bring Pakistan around to actually dealing with their insurgent-breeding tribal areas. The future success of Afghan governance, security, and civil society is far from assured, but this agreement was an important step forward.

Update: Spencer Ackerman has culled through congressional testimony, reports, and other sources to sketch out the likely details of the agreement and he frames the accord as being much less about Afghanistan than it is about the US shadow war in Pakistan. Interesting analysis.

New Presidential Policy on Atrocities and Technology

The President today rolled out a new Executive Order allowing the US to sanction and pursue foreign nationals who use technology to perpetrate human rights abuses. This came in conjunction with the announcement of a new Atrocities Prevention Board, headed by senior NSC staffer and vocal genocide scholar Samantha Power. It's unclear what effect these new policies will have on the ongoing conflict in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East.