The Diplomatic Brain Drain in Afghanistan

BY Gordon Lubol 

APRIL 13, 2014 – 08:04 PM

Afghans are expected to settle on a new president by this summer and the U.S. and the new government in Kabul will begin to forge a relationship in the postwar period. But at this critical juncture there will be a diplomatic brain drain that will undermine U.S. policy goals there, say officials in and out of the U.S. government.

With President Hamid Karzai leaving office after a stormy relationship with Washington for more than 12 years, many current and former U.S. officials see a unique opportunity to redefine the relationship with Kabul.

But that may be difficult. By summer, after a possible runoff election chooses Karzai’s successor, most of the mid-level and senior U.S. civilians with deep Afghanistan experience who would have the knowledge to help foster strong relations with the new government will be long gone. And, officials familiar with the matter said, they will be replaced by diplomats expected to have far less experience. Continue reading

Does the CIA Need a Country’s Permission to Spy on It?

No, but sometimes it helps.

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Pakistan‘s military is demanding that the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) sharply cut back its activities in the country in the wake of undercover agent Raymond Davis’s arrest on murder charges and subsequent release. In addition to scaling back the number of CIA drone strikes on Pakistani targets, Pakistani Army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has insisted on the withdrawal of all contractors working for the CIA and all operatives like Davis, who are working in “unilateral” assignments, meaning that only one country (read: not Pakistan) is aware of their presence. But since when does the CIA need a country’s permission to conduct intelligence operations? Isn’t the whole point that the local government isn’t supposed to know they’re there? Continue reading