Afghanistan Needs a Special Envoy

By Daniel Hoffman

Daniel Hoffman is a former senior officer with the Central Intelligence Agency, where he served as a three-time station chief and a senior executive Clandestine Services officer. Hoffman also led large-scale HUMINT (human intelligence gathering) and technical programs and his assignments included tours of duty in the former Soviet Union, Europe, and war zones in the Middle East and South Asia. Hoffman also served as director of the CIA Middle East and North Africa Division. He is currently a national security analyst with Fox News.

In addition to ethnic divisions and poor governance, the power projection of neighboring countries inside Afghanistan will continue to be a key factor in determining whether the U.S. and our allies will be successful in Afghanistan. The primary mission for the U.S. in Afghanistan continues to be denying ISIS and al Qaeda bases of operations inside ungoverned spaces across the country, which enabled the 9/11 attacks on our homeland. ISIS is an ongoing threat, particularly in eastern Afghanistan; the country continues to be a major narcotics hub; and Taliban fighters effectively carry on their insurgency while demonstrating increased tactical sophistication and access to weapons and military equipment.

U.S. policymakers considering future regional strategies should reflect on the extent to which the solutions to Afghanistan’s significant economic, political, and security challenges may be found not only in Kabul, but in Islamabad, Beijing, Moscow, New Delhi, and even Tehran. Deliberations about U.S. troop commitments and strategy, therefore, should also consider the value of naming a White House special envoy for Afghanistan, who would focus on Afghanistan’s internal challenges and simultaneously engage regional and international power brokers both to maximize collaboration and limit deleterious outside influence. The role of a special envoy to Afghanistan would create a central point of contract that could engage directly with the various government and non-state actors with interests in Afghanistan, cutting out bureaucratic processes and stovepiped initiatives.

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