Most Popular Posts
Despite Some Questions, Obama's Afghan Policy is Sound - Max Boot, Los Angeles Times opinion.
... The questions that remain unanswered after the president's West Point address: Will the troops have the time and resources needed to win? "Win" is a word that Obama avoided. He cited his long-standing goal of "disrupting, dismantling and defeating Al Qaeda and its extremist allies," but he spoke merely of his desire to "break the Taliban's momentum" rather than defeat it altogether. He spoke of wanting to "end this war successfully" but said nothing of winning the war. Nor did he endorse nation-building, even though the only way that Afghanistan will ever be secure is if we build a state capable of policing its own territory. He did say we "must strengthen the capacity of Afghanistan's security forces and government," which sounds a bit like nation-building, but then he also promised that he would not make an open-ended troop commitment, "because the nation that I'm most interested in building is our own."
The most problematic part of Obama's policy is his pledge to begin a withdrawal in July 2011. Getting 30,000 troops into Afghanistan is a difficult logistical challenge. It will be a major achievement if all of them are in place by July 2010. That will give them only one year to reverse many years of Taliban gains before their own numbers start to dwindle. That may or may not be sufficient. The "surge" in Iraq had a big impact within a year, but the US had made a much bigger commitment to Iraq pre-surge than it has in Afghanistan. The good part of the deadline is that it presumably means we will be spared another agonizing White House review for at least another year. That's no small thing, given that Obama first unveiled an Afghan strategy on March 27, and less than six months later launched another drawn-out and very public reappraisal...
More at The Los Angeles Times.