Obama’s Afghanistan Plan
Over at New Atlanticist, I discuss “Obama’s Afghanistan Plan,” noting that actually achieving results will prove far more difficult than criticizing the Bush administration.
My main criticism is of his continued harping on catching Osama bin Laden:
[I]t would be ironic indeed if a Democratic successor to Bush seriously made tracking down a single terrorist a high priority. Outgoing Democratic Party chairman Howard Dean caught a lot of flack when he said that the capture of Saddam Hussein would have little practical impact on our success in Iraq, he turned out to be absolutely right. Putting bin Laden’s head on a stick — or capturing him and subjecting him to the indignity of an international criminal tribunal — would be enormously satisfying but have approximately zero impact on either stabilizing the region or combatting international terrorism.
The main cause for hope:
The good news, though, is the talk of a “regional approach.” While it’s just silly to say that the Bush administration is still treating Pakistan and Afghanistan as separate issues, they certainly seemed to do that far too deep into this process. Certainly, Obama will be much more likely to bring Iran and Syria into the mix. Whether he can ultimately be successful is another question entirely. But it’s certainly worth trying.
The bottom line: “Will Obama make the same mistake as the current president in not setting achievable goals for the mission?”