'NATO Has the Watches, We Have the Time'

'NATO Has the Watches, We Have the Time' - James Shinn, Wall Street Journal opinion.

Those of us in the Bush administration who were responsible for its "Afghan Strategy Review" kept our mouths shut when we handed over the document to the Obama transition team last fall. We didn't want to box in the new administration. And when President Barack Obama and his advisers rolled out their own Afghanistan strategy on March 27, I was quietly pleased. It came to basically the same conclusion we had: The paramount goal was to squash terrorism through counterinsurgency and better governance in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs promised the press corps at the time that its strategy would be "fully resourced." Later, in August, Gen. Stanley McChrystal's assessment of the situation in Afghanistan was leaked. It was a road map to implement precisely the Obama strategy that was announced in March.

But one key element of both the Bush and Obama strategies is getting lost in the debate - that we must apply the military and economic resources for the time required to achieve our goals. As the Obama administration's March 27 White Paper notes, "There are no quick fixes to achieve US national security interests in Afghanistan and Pakistan." The average counterinsurgency war lasts a decade and a half; the successful British campaign in Malaya in the 1950s, for example, took 12 years. Even if Gen. McChrystal gets the 40,000 additional troops he has requested, there is unlikely to be short-term progress in meeting any of the security "metrics" that opponents of the war in Afghanistan will try to insert into the defense appropriations for carrying out the president's strategy...

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