New partnership raises US stake in Afghanistan
By Arthur I. Cyr
In a surprise July 7 visit to Kabul, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced that Afghanistan and the United States are now formal allies. This new relationship goes beyond the long-term multilateral effort to stabilize the troubled South Asia nation, under authorization from the United Nations andNATO.
@NATO: North Atlantic Treaty Organisation
Afghanistan now joins 14 other nations in the special category of strategic partner of the U.S. These include Argentina, Australia, Israel and Japan, notably stronger economically, and more stable politically, than Afghanistan.
Clinton's announcement raises the already high stakes involved for the United States.
The new bilateral partnership will facilitate closer cooperation, including more rapid delivery of military equipment, supplies and weapons. This in turn becomes more important as American forces leave that country.
@in turn: one after another
After the announcement, Clinton and Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai traveled to a conference in Tokyo, where donor nations pledged $16 billion in new development assistance to Afghanistan.
This latest move occurs simultaneously with the administration's disengagement from direct military combat in Afghanistan. President Barack Obama laid out elements in this process in a major policy address to the nation in June 2011. Among other steps, he announced that all 33,000 troops authorized in the "surge" of December 2009 would leave by the end of summer 2012.
@lay out: to arrange or spread out
@surge: suddenly increase or develop slowly
Obama, Clinton and associates express carefully phrased optimism about stabilizing Afghanistan and relations with neighboring Pakistan, yet the insurgents continue to mount daring operations. Dramatic insurgent strikes are now an established feature of this war.
@insurgent: protest against govn’t
Last April, the Taliban carried out a stunning raid and mass prison break in the town of Bannu in Pakistan, near North Waziristan, a tribal area with strong sympathy for Islamic radicalism. A lengthy gun battle freed approximately 400 prisoners. The Pakistan military, though extensively engaged in counterinsurgency operations in the area, didn't arrive in time to prevent the mass escape. Speculation about inside assistance continues.
@raid: sudden attack
@tribal: used to describe things relating to or belonging to tribes
The U.S. has been actively pressuring Pakistani forces to be more aggressive.
The weekend meetings in Kabul and Tokyo provided welcome opportunities for allied leaders to demonstrate cohesion as well as continuing commitment to defeating the Taliban, al-Qaida and associated groups.
@commitment: strong belief and idea or system
Economic and military assistance remains essential to this international initiative. Four years ago, leaders representing the Group of Eight major industrial nations committed approximately $4 billion in economic aid to Afghanistan. Much of this aid is being concentrated in the tribal areas bordering Pakistan.
The lengthy and often-frustrating nature of the South Asia struggle can mask positive political changes, including reasonably honest elections and active participation of women. Despite lack of infrastructure, technology is spreading steadily. Television, cellphones and the Internet are now features of isolated communities.
As usual, history is instructive ― and somewhat encouraging. While much commentary on Afghanistan's violent past refers to the heavy-handed, disastrous Soviet military invasion and consequent defeat in the 1980s, the more complex, extremely long-term history of Britain's engagement there is generally neglected.
@commentary: a description of an event on radio or television while the event is taking plase
Over decades through the 19th century, sizable British military expeditions experienced frustration. However, London eventually achieved a reliable regime in Kabul through economic incentives combined with military operations.
The paramount lesson is not to rely on military force alone.
Arthur I. Cyr is Clausen Distinguished Professor at Carthage College in Kenosha, Wis., and author of "After the Cold War." Email firstname.lastname@example.org.