We will be joined here by all of the 48 countries, the 20 partners and NATO allies who are contributing forces to the mission in Afghanistan, as well as representatives of important international organizations, the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, the World Bank, the European Union, and of course President Karzai, because this is about his country.The Guardian has a good piece on the Summit work on Afghanistan here.
We expect to see two main decisions taken here. One is to launch the process of transition whereby beginning in the first half of next year, early next year, district by district, province by province, Afghan Security Forces will take lead responsibility for security in their own country. In essence, President Karzai has laid out the vision, the aim, that by 2014 Afghan Security Forces should be in the lead for security operations throughout Afghanistan. That is an aim the whole international community has endorsed. That is the goal for which we are working. It must be a conditions-based process, but we are quite confident that the conditions can and will be in place with a goal of Afghans being in the lead for security by 2014 to be met.
The second decision we expect from the ISAF meeting is an agreement between NATO and Afghanistan on a long-term partnership that goes beyond the combat mission and that is broader than the combat mission. It is a political commitment to the long-term future of Afghanistan. It has very clear areas in which NATO will continue to support the development of the country in terms of training and other capacity-building. And it sends a clear message that NATO will stay as long as it takes to help Afghanistan find its feet and become resistant to terrorism. That is in Afghanistan's interests, it is in the interest of the region, and it is in our interest as an international community that terrorism can find no safe haven in Afghanistan and that Afghanistan is able to resist terrorism on its own.
Of course, the prospects for success are very mixed. Even a definition of what success is proves elusive. NATO continues to suffer attacks in Pakistan as well as Afghanistan (see this story, and this one too), and its ability to win any kind of military victory has to be questioned.
Indeed, some still debate the entire rationale and approach of the West to Afghanistan over the past decade. This was an interesting short piece on those lines.