Foreign Policy

Coll: What If We Fail in Afghanistan?

Last week, I found myself at yet another think tank-type meeting about Afghan policy choices. Toward the end, one of the participants, who had long experience in government, asked a deceptively simple question: What would happen if we failed?...

Coll: “Decoding the New Taliban”

Antonio Giustozzi, a fellow at the London School of Economics, is the editor of a new volume of research essays about the Taliban entitled “Decoding the New Taliban,” which is being published here by Columbia University Press. It is an outstanding and important collection—just the sort of locally specific, openly debatable, scholarly analysis about the diverse structures and leaders of the Taliban that will be required more and more if the international community is ever to understand the insurgents and divine how to prevent a second Taliban revolution...

Live Chat: Savings as a Path Out of Poverty, Tuesday at Noon ET

Microcredit may have won a Nobel Prize, but evidence is mounting that savings-based programs are more effective tools for providing a pathway out of poverty.

In this week's New America/Politico Live Chat, Jamie M. Zimmerman, New America's deputy director of the Global Assets Project, will be taking questions at Noon ET Tuesday on the role of savings in international development, from the United States to Mexico to Uganda. For background on this issue and some promising pilot programs, please see the video from last week's event, "Savings as a Tool for International Development."

UPDATE: This online discussion has concluded. A complete transcript is available below..

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Past Chats

Previous New America/Politico chats have their full transcripts archived:

Coll: Let It Snowe

Sorry for the long silence. Too much Afghanistan makes Jack a dull boy. I’m afraid to report, however, that I have been jolted back to typing by the subject of…health-care reform. Nobody said this was TMZ.

Live Web Chat: Nicholas Thompson on Cold-War Lessons for Afghanistan (Tuesday, Noon ET)

In this week's New America/Politico Live Chat, Nicholas Thompson will be online to discuss the dueling views on U.S. strategy in Afghanistan -- and how foreign policies forged in the Cold War continue to shape today's debate.

Thompson is a Schwartz Fellow at New America, a Senior Editor at Wired magazine, and the author of The Hawk and the Dove: Paul Nitze, George Kennan, and the History of the Cold War.

Update: This real-time, text-based online discussion has concluded. A full transcript is available below.

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Past Chats

Previous New America/Politico chats have their full transcripts archived:

Coll: Gorbachev Was Right

We’re all prisoners of our own experiences. Richard Holbrooke, the Obama Administration’s diplomatic point man on Afghanistan, and the subject of my colleague George Packer’s terrific Profile last week, arrives at the current dilemmas influenced by Vietnam and Bosnia. General David Petraeus, Obama’s commander for the Middle East and Central Asian region, and General Stan McChrystal, his commander in Afghanistan, arrive at this intersection with the recent lessons of counterinsurgency in Iraq ringing in their ears. In some respects the debate over what strategy Obama should now adopt in Afghanistan has become a debilitating contest of historical analogies and comparative case studies...

Coll: Legitimacy and the Afghan Army

When Margaret Warner interviewed Hillary Clinton on Newshour on Monday, Clinton said that no matter what the Obama Administration decided about its Afghan strategy or the numbers of troops required, it would not send new troops until the disputed Afghan presidential election is on a clear path to resolution.

The logic here is easy to understand. American strategy until now has been rooted mainly in counterinsurgency doctrine. That doctrine is premised on strengthening the effectiveness of a legitimate Afghan government. The allegations of electoral fraud against President Karzai, as well as the continuing uncertainty about whether there will be a runoff vote, and how the opposition leader, Abdullah, will play his hand, mean that it is unclear what sort of government American counterinsurgency doctrine can attempt to support...

Coll: Thinking About Afghanistan

At the risk of trying the patience of those who seek from Afghan wonks a short yes-or-no opinion about General McChrystal’s assessment of the war and his argument for more U.S. troops pronto, I thought I would try a series of posts this week that seek some distance from the political heat surrounding President Obama’s first (but presumably not his only) excruciating decision as commander-in-chief. I’ll circle around to the yes-or-no, but gradually.

I have been scratching my head about the President’s Afghan dilemma since mid-summer. My progress with this puzzle has been limited. The decisions he now faces are so complex that the first difficulty is to define the problem correctly. The President made clear during his weekend TV blitz that he understands this. One place to start is with a basic question: What vital U.S. national security interests are at issue in the Afghan war?...

Coll: 3b or Not 3b

The Obama Administration’s draft metrics for progress in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which circulated publicly this week, offer the most precise articulation of the Administration’s goals and thinking about the war since its Afghan strategy was formally announced in the spring. The purpose of the metrics is “to highlight both positive and negative trends and issues that may call for policy adjustments over time.” Rather than troops-or-no-troops, stay-or-leave, the metrics provide the nuanced vernacular in which policy will actually be debated, decided, and funded...

Coll: Lisa Jackson

…is the first African-American administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. She graduated from Tulane University, earned an advanced degree at Princeton, and worked at the E.P.A. for sixteen years. She served as New Jersey Governor John Corzine’s chief of staff and as that state’s environment commissioner before President Obama appointed her to her current post. This afternoon I stopped by the Atlantic’s Green Intelligence Forum in Washington to hear her speak...