Can The U.S. Succeed In Afghanistan, Pakistan?

ABC's John Donvan moderates an Intelligence Squared U.S. debate. i i

ABC's John Donvan (center) moderates an Intelligence Squared U.S. debate on the motion "America Cannot and Will Not Succeed in Afghanistan/Pakistan." Chris Vultaggio hide caption

itoggle caption Chris Vultaggio
ABC's John Donvan moderates an Intelligence Squared U.S. debate.

ABC's John Donvan (center) moderates an Intelligence Squared U.S. debate on the motion "America Cannot and Will Not Succeed in Afghanistan/Pakistan."

Chris Vultaggio

Coming Up

On Oct. 27, a panel of experts will debate the motion "Good Riddance to Mainstream Media."

As the Obama administration considers its options in Afghanistan — especially whether to send more troops — a more fundamental question continues to be raised about the conflict there: Is the United States doomed to fail in Afghanistan, as others have failed before?

And what about the other half of the so-called AfPak strategy — Pakistan, with its nuclear arsenal? The United States is pressuring the Pakistani military to root out al-Qaida and Taliban militants, but a difficult road lies ahead. Can the United States possibly find success in the region?

A panel of experts took on that topic in the latest Intelligence Squared U.S. debate. Three experts argued for the motion "America Cannot and Will Not Succeed in Afghanistan/Pakistan," and three argued against in the Oxford-style debate at New York University's Skirball Center for the Performing Arts.

Before the Oct. 6 debate, the audience voted 48 percent in favor of the motion and 25 percent against, with 27 percent undecided. Afterward, the vote was 43 percent in agreement that "America Cannot and Will Not Succeed in Afghanistan/Pakistan," and 45 percent against. Twelve percent remained undecided.

The debate was moderated by John Donvan, correspondent for ABC News' Nightline. Those debating were:

John Donvan i i

Donvan moderates the debate at New York University's Skirball Center on Oct. 6. Chris Vultaggio hide caption

itoggle caption Chris Vultaggio
John Donvan

Donvan moderates the debate at New York University's Skirball Center on Oct. 6.

Chris Vultaggio

FOR THE MOTION

Steven Clemons directs the American Strategy Program at the New America Foundation, which aims to promote a new American internationalism that combines a tough-minded realism about America's interests in the world, with a pragmatic idealism about the kind of world order best suited to America's democratic way of life. He is also a senior fellow at New America and publisher of the political blog The Washington Note.

Patrick Lang is a retired senior officer of U.S. Military Intelligence and U.S. Army Special Forces (Green Berets). He served in the Defense Department, both as a serving officer and then as a member of the Defense Senior Executive Service for many years. Lang is a highly decorated veteran of several of America's overseas conflicts, including the war in Vietnam. He was trained and educated as a specialist in the Middle East by the U.S. Army and served in that region for many years.

Ralph Peters is a retired Army officer who rose from the enlisted ranks. As a soldier or civilian, he has experience in more than 70 countries. He's the author of 24 books and has been an opinion columnist for the New York Post since 2002. He has covered conflict zones in Iraq, Israel and Africa, and has affiliations with USA Today, Armed Forces Journal and Armchair General magazine. In March, Peters became Fox News' first "strategic analyst."

John Nagl, president of the Center for a New American Security i i

John Nagl, president of the Center for a New American Security, argues against the motion "America Cannot and Will Not Succeed in Afghanistan/Pakistan" during an Intelligence Squared U.S. debate. Chris Vultaggio hide caption

itoggle caption Chris Vultaggio
John Nagl, president of the Center for a New American Security

John Nagl, president of the Center for a New American Security, argues against the motion "America Cannot and Will Not Succeed in Afghanistan/Pakistan" during an Intelligence Squared U.S. debate.

Chris Vultaggio

AGAINST THE MOTION

Steve Coll is president and CEO of the New America Foundation and a staff writer at The New Yorker magazine. Previously, he spent 20 years as a foreign correspondent and senior editor at The Washington Post, serving as the paper's managing editor from 1998 to 2004. He is the author of six books, including Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001.

John Nagl is president of the Center for a New American Security and a visiting professor in the War Studies Department at King's College London. Nagl retired from the U.S. Army after 20 years, with the rank of lieutenant colonel. He led a tank platoon in Operation Desert Storm and served as the operations officer of a tank battalion task force in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Nagl is the author of Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam and was on the writing team that produced the U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual.

James Shinn was assistant secretary of defense for Asia in 2007-2008. He served as the national intelligence officer for East Asia in 2003-2006, first at the CIA and then for the director of national intelligence. After serving in the East Asia bureau of the State Department in the 1970s, he spent 15 years working in high-tech firms, including at Dialogic, which he co-founded. Shinn was senior fellow for Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations from 1992-1996.


The Intelligence Squared U.S. series is produced in New York City by The Rosenkranz Foundation.

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