Friday, March 27, 2009

Obama's Afghan policy a muddle

Obama speaks better than Bush, so he may have convinced a few people that his people have really thought about it and come up with a viable strategy in Afghanistan. However it is unquestionably a muddle, different only in tone and the superficial impression of apparent thoughtfulness from the Bush policy. He claims the focus is narrowed to neutralizing/destroying al-Qaida or at least making sure al-Qaida doesn't become a more serious threat the the U.S. and the west. In fact he's apparently resolved disagreement within his administration about whether to go counter-terrorist (balls-out against al-Qaida) or counterinsurgent (neutralize the Taliban by winning over the people with roads, electricity, safety, etc.) by doing both, but with nowhere near the resources needed to do either. If the goal is really to neutralize al-Qaida, there's not only no need to beef up military forces in Afghanistan (where al-Qaida isn't), it will almost certainly be counterproductive.

Quite a few people with some modicum of expertise seem to agree. The "plan" (really more a formula for muddling through and hoping for the best) doesn't address Afghan corruption. What support there is from Beltway types is lukewarm at best, butt-kissing at worst.

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