Leslie Gelb: How To Get Out Of Afghanistan

Today's AfPak round-up:

Gelb: How to Get Out of Afghanistan. President Obama should withdraw the bulk of U.S. troops from Afghanistan by mid-2013, then "drown" the costs of that withdrawal with a flurry of diplomacy, writes Leslie Gelb of the Daily Beast. Richard Nixon, Gelb writes, used his opening to China and his Egyptian-Israeli peace accord to distract the world to re-establish America's global credibility in the wake of Vietnam. Obama can do the same by pledging economic and military aid to Kabul while building a containment policy against the Taliban and the Afghan drug trade in conjunction with Russia, India, Pakistan, and Iran. [Daily Beast]

TNR: WikiLeaks vindicates Afghans' views on war. "Finally the world will know what we have been going through," said one Afghan after thousands of classified U.S. military documents were released online. This comment, writes Anand Gopal for the New Republic, reflects many Afghans' reaction to the leak. The leaked documents, he says, lend credence to Afghans' "hatred" of foreign forces, their disenchantment with Hamid Karzai's government, and their view of Pakistan as an "eminence grise" that manipulates and sabotages their country. [TNR]

Gates: 2011 drawdown will be "limited." Speaking to Christiane Amanpour on Sunday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates emphasized "that we are not leaving Afghanistan in July of 2011," adding that those who expect a major troop drawdown by next year will be disappointed: "my personal opinion is that drawdowns early on will be of fairly limited numbers." [Al Jazeera English]

Petraeus clarifies rules on airstrikes. Gen. David Petraeus, the NATO force commander in Afghanistan, said current rules of engagement allow troops to request airstrikes on insurgents hiding in abandoned or dilapidated buildings. Many commanders had been reluctant to strike such buildings, as they thought it would violate a rule banning airstrikes on buildings where civilians might live. [WSJ]