I must admit that I did not watch all of Obama’s speech regarding next steps in Afghanistan. However, I caught quite a few clips and I thought I would share a few thoughts. However, I would first like to state what I see as the outcome of any strategy in Afghanistan. Overall, I believe America’s goal should be to disorder terrorists networks that may harm the United States. Let me state what I don’t think it should. Fighting in Afghanistan is not about building a perfect democracy. The realist in me simply believes that we do not have the resources to make this happen (it is the consultant in me – I’m all about scope control). Anyway, here is a Republican blogger (yes, I read items from both parties), Liz Mair, that worked on McCain’s communication staff that I think states it best regarding a realist strategy in Afghanistain. Here is the take-away quote:
“The objective should be to dismantle and disrupt terrorist networks and keep them weak enough to not take hold of Afghanistan and use it as a base from which to launch attacks on the US aimed at taking the country as a whole down– and if that is genuinely not achievable, then the objective should be to preserve our strength and otherwise secure ourselves by avoiding ongoing losses and engagement that will weaken us.”
In terms of actual strategy itself, I think Obama is placing faith in his military leaders to give them what they need so they can deliver on the objective I state above. Here is a good assessment from Andrew Sullivan regarding Obama’s next steps in Afghanistan:
“By giving McChrystal what he wants and giving him a couple of years to deliver tangible results. If McChrystal delivers, fantastic. I will do a ritual self-flagellation and bow down to the man with no body-fat and a close relationship with 33 Kagans of various generations and genders. If McChrystal does his best and we still get nowhere, Obama will have demonstrated – not argued, demonstrated – that withdrawal is the least worst option.
The far right will accuse him of weakness – but they will do that anyway. All he need do is remind Americans of what the far right version of “strength” is: engaging an enemy on his own turf, sustaining an insurgency by our very presence, draining the Treasury of trillions, sacrificing more young men and women to shore up one of the most corrupt governments on earth, and basically returning to Bush-Cheney land. And that will be a very telling argument in 2012: do we want to go back to Cheneyism? To torture and endless occupation and a third war with a Muslim nation, Iran?
On reflection, Obama was saying something quite simple: one more try, guys.”