Thursday, 2:00 p.m.-3:30 p.m.
Moderator:  John Coffey

This course examines various aspects of the war in Afghanistan. Each topic has designated readings, which participants must read and come prepared to discuss thoughtfully. This is a discussion seminar. The moderator will not lecture, but rather lead discussion with questions and offer comments as appropriate. This course offers no facile answers; its purpose is to illuminate the complexity and difficulty of issues such as this. Participants will receive the readings prior to the beginning of the course. Class limit: 25.

Reading List

Jan 28 - “What’s At Stake?”

1. President Barack Obama, “Address to the Nation on the Way Forward in Afghanistan and Pakistan,” United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, 12/01/09 

2. Richard Haass, “ In Afghanistan, the Choice Is Ours,” New York Times, 8/21/09

3. Robert Kagan, “The President and the ‘Necessary War’ Myth,” Washington Post, 8/23/09

4. Paul Pillar, “Who’s Afraid of a Terrorist Haven?” Washington Post, 9/16/09

5. Stephen Biddle, “Is It Worth It?’  The American Interest, IV(Jl./Aug., 2009)

Feb 4 - “Strategy:  I”

6. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, ISAF Commander/Afghanistan, “ISAF’s Commander’s Counterinsurgency Guidance,” 8/26/09

7. Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt (Ret.), “War Games:  Basics Never Change, Circumstances Always Do,” The American Interest, IV(Jl./Aug., 2009)

8. Stephen Biddle, “Is There a Middle Way?  The Problem With Half-Measures in Afghanistan,” The New Republic (Nov. 4, 2009)

Feb 11 - “Strategy:  II”

9. Lt. Col. Ralph Peters (Ret.), “Wishful Thinking and Indecisive Wars,” Journal of International Security Affairs, 16(Spring, 2009)

10. Fotina Christia and Michael Semple, “Flipping the Taliban,” Foreign Affairs, 88(Jl./Aug., 2009)

11. Eliot A. Cohen, “Obama’s COIN Toss,” Washington Post 12/06/09

12. Doug Stanton, “How to Win in Afghanistan:  One Village at a Time,” Washington Post 12/06/09

Feb 18 - “The Larger Context”

13. Robin Wright, “The Real Stakes in Afghanistan,” Washington Post, 12/10/09

14. Ahmed Rashid, “Trotsky in Baluchistan,” The National Interest (Nov./Dec., 2009)

15. Bruce Riedel, “Armageddon in Islamabad,” The National Interest, 102(Jl./Aug., 2009)

16. [Word] [PDF] Col. Douglas MacGregor (Ret.), “Refusing Battle:  The Alternative to Persistent Warfare,” Armed Forces Journal, (April, 2009) 

About the instructor: John Coffey received his Ph.D. in history from Stanford University and taught for 20 years before spending 15 years in government, retiring from the State Department in 2005.  He has published widely in foreign and defense policy.