The Buzz on the New Plan for Afghanistan
There’s a lot of buzz going around right now that President Obama will announce his new plan for our efforts in Afghanistan tomorrow. Marc Ambinder says that folks in the know are telling him that the plan will emphasize counter-terrorist activities:
A few weeks ago, Obama announced that an additional 17,000 U.S. troops would be sent to Afghanistan. Tomorrow, he plans to spell out their mission. 4,000 additional troops will be tasked with training Afghan soldiers and the national police; the administration hopes to have more than 130,000 soldiers and 82,000 police officers trained by 2011. The rest of the troops will be given expanded counter-terrorism assignments and charged with defeating Al Qaeda, not just killing them in isolation.
That’s somewhat in conflict with the Christian Science Monitor’s reporting on the same subject:
Washington – Since the United States invaded Iraq six years ago, its attention, effort, and military know-how has tilted toward the Gulf. Perhaps as soon as Friday, President Obama is expected to shift that focus, announcing a new strategy for Afghanistan and the neighbor with which it is entwined, Pakistan.
It is an announcement with echoes of the US “surge” in Iraq, when America increased its commitment to Iraq and turned to a new strategy that prioritized protecting Iraqis as much as killing terrorists. In the broadest terms, plans for Afghanistan will be along the same lines.
That’s counter-insurgency, not counter-terrorism and which path we’ll go down makes a difference.
It makes sense for this announcement to come now. Next week there will be an international conference on Afghanistan at the World Forum at The Hague. Hard on the heels of that will be NATO’s 60th anniversary summit which will doubtlessly be dominated by the subject of Afghanistan. President Obama very much needs to go into the meeting with a clear message and the time for floating trial balloons is now.