Our proposal will improve security for Americans and reduce annual costs by at least $60 billion per year.

1. Emphasize power-sharing and political inclusion.
The U.S. should fast-track a peace process designed to decentralize power within Afghanistan and encourage a power-sharing balance among the principal parties.

2. Downsize and eventually end military operations in southern Afghanistan, and reduce the U.S. military footprint.
The U.S. should draw down its military presence, which radicalizes many Pashtuns and is an important aid to Taliban recruitment.

3. Focus security efforts on Al Qaeda and Domestic Security.
Special forces, intelligence assets, and other U.S. capabilities should continue to seek out and target known Al Qaeda cells in the region.  They can be ready to go after Al Qaeda should they attempt to relocate elsewhere or build new training facilities. In addition, part of the savings from our drawdown should be reallocated to bolster U.S. domestic security efforts and to track nuclear weapons globally.

4. Encourage economic development.
Because destitute states can become incubators for terrorism, drug and human trafficking, and other illicit activities, efforts at reconciliation should be paired with an internationally led effort to develop Afghanistan’s economy.

5. Engage regional and global stakeholders in a diplomatic effort designed to guarantee Afghan neutrality and foster regional stability. Despite their considerable differences, neighboring states such as India, Pakistan, China, Iran and Saudi Arabia share a common interest in preventing Afghanistan from being dominated by any single power or being a permanently failed state that exports instability to others.

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This report was published on August 16 2010.

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