CFR Report Urges Major Afghanistan Drawdown

Cautioning Obama on High Costs, Report Calls for Scaling Back War

While admitting their previous support for President Obama’s massive December 2009 escalation of the Afghan War, the Council on Foreign Relations today released a report calling for a major scaling back on the conflict, citing the lack of progress, enormous costs and political unpopularity of the nearly decade-long war.

The report, penned by a task force headed by former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, urged the president to take a clear picture of the war in his December review and, barring unforseen progress, should start removing large numbers of troops from the nation.

“We ought to not wait until July 2011 to change directions,” warned Armitage, citing the promised drawdown date that the administration has already disavowed on several occasions, adding that “absent a much better situation in Pakistan, we cannot prevail in Afghanistan.”

Though the report stops well short of a call for a full pullout from the nation it says of the war that “it is not clear that U.S. interests warrant such an investment. Nor is it clear that the effort will succeed.”

President Obama has dramatically increased the number of troops in Afghanistan since taking office, and officials are now publicly talking about a 2014 transition date, and acknowledging that the war could last another decade. The huge costs and the lack of meaningful progress have made such a protracted war a very tough sell, even for the usually war-friendly CFR.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.