Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Could we have an Afghan policy, please?

By Michael J.W. Stickings

TNR's Michael Crowley:


Obama: US will 'stay on the offensive' in Afghanistan

Okay, great. But as opposed to what -- sitting around and waiting to be attacked? This comes on the heels of Obama's statement on "60 Minutes" that the U.S. is looking for an "exit strategy," which was treated as minor news. Well, of course we want an exit strategy. The question is: What is it? Or rather, what constitutes conditions that allow us to leave Afghanistan. So far, none of this sounds much like a clearer strategic plan than George W. Bush had for the country. Hopefully we'll get more meat when Obama gives his Afghanistan speech, reportedly this Friday.

Yeah, that'd be nice, not least because many of us -- and I could myself as one who supported he war but who has since grown disenchanted with it -- aren't quite sure what the point is anymore. Security in Kabul? The long-term viability of the national government? The establishment of a friendly, lasting democracy? The destruction of the Taliban? The elimination, to the extent possible, of al Qaeda elements in the Afghan-Pakistan border region?

Is it a war? Is it a peacekeeping operation? Or is it an occupation?

What would constitute "victory"? And when could the troops come home?

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