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Shawn Dorman is the editor of

e Foreign Service Journal.

understanding of the ground realities

and issues at play.

e articles o er three di erent

takes on the state of Afghanistan and its

relationship with the U.S., with varying

degrees of pessimism and hope. While

each author comes to the topic from a

di erent vantage point by a di erent

path, each comes to the same conclu-

sion—that the U.S.


remain engaged

with Afghanistan.

First is the “glass half empty” narra-

tive from Ed McWilliams, retired FSO

and former special envoy to Afghanistan

from 1988 to 1989, with “Will History

Repeat Itself?” He o ers a look back to

1989 and a primer on the players then

and now, and cautions that “it is critical

that the United States not walk away, as

it did in 1989.”

Next, the glass is half full with David

Sedney, who has years of U.S. govern-

ment experience working on Afghani-

stan and visited that country as recently

as October. In “Five

ings We Can

Still Get Right,” he points to serious

challenges for Afghanistan, while also

highlighting signs of progress. We’ll call

him the cautious optimist. Acknowledg-

ing the mixed record of U.S. involvement

there, he lays out recommendations for

the right way for the U.S. to engage going


And nally, in “What U.S. Policymak-

ers Should Know About Afghanistan

Today,” Scott Smith of the U.S. Institute

of Peace shows us that we might need

to look at another glass altogether. He

describes Afghanistan today not through

a U.S. lens but through the lens of

Afghan cultural tradition and transition.

is month’s book reviews look at two

important books on Afghanistan



Wrong Enemy

by Carlotta Gall and


Wars of Afghanistan

by Peter Tomsen.

We would like to o er special thanks

to photographer Casey Garret Johnson—

a senior program o cer for USIP who

has lived and worked in Afghanistan

since 2008—for sharing his spectacular

photos, which illustrate this month’s

focus section.

In his President’s Views column this

month, “ e Departed,” Bob Silverman

invites readers to join AFSA in support-

ing the Mustafa Akarsu Local Guard

Force Support Act that, if passed, will

help the families of locally employed

Diplomatic Security colleagues killed in

the line of duty.

Continuing on our theme of engage-

ment is the o cial call for nominations

for the 2015-2017 Governing Board in

AFSA News. AFSA invites members to

consider running for o ce or nominat-

ing someone else who is ready to take

an active role in working for the Foreign

Service through AFSA.

is month’s Speaking Out is a pitch

for another type of engagement, the vir-

tual kind. In “Twitter Is a Cocktail Party,

Not a Press Conference (or, Social Media

for Reporting O cers),” Wren Elhai

makes a strong and bold case for why

Twitter can and should help reporting

o cers do their jobs. Tweet or email us

your thoughts on this month’s issue, or

take quill to paper. Your choice, but we

hope you’ll join the dialog.


fghanistan is at a turning

point, again.

is month

signals the o cial end of

coalition combat missions

there and the continuation of the draw-

down of U.S. forces. A new government

is in place following a contentious and

contested, but ultimately successful,

transfer of the presidency from Hamid

Karzai to Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai. What

does this new leadership landscape,

including some not so new faces, mean

for the U.S.-Afghanistan relationship?

What does a diminishing role for the U.S.

military mean for U.S. diplomacy? Can

Afghanistan succeed?

is month we feature various views

on the way forward for Afghanistan

and, in particular, the proper role for

the United States there. In September,

we brought you a look at what it’s like

to serve at Embassy Kabul from FSO Bill Bent, and in October, an article o


U.S. work with Afghan women by FSO

Sandya Das, “Learning from Women’s Successes in Afghanistan.”

We reached out to a number of

experts inside and outside government

to bring a variety of perspectives to this

issue, with the aim of answering the

question, “What should we know about

Afghanistan today?”

What we got back was not entirely

expected, and might

well be of interest to

those inside the U.S.

government, as well

as those outside, who

are looking for better