December 2, 2009 ☼ Foreign Affairs
This is an archived blog post from The Acorn.
All President Barack Obama said in his speech was that he had decided to send 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, at a cost of US$30 billion for a duration of around 18 months. He did so using far too many euphemisms (“tools of mass destruction” takes the cake). Sure, it was a politically difficult decision for him—but, after dithering for almost half-a-year, he didn’t have anything substantially new to say about what the United States intends to do.
The main issue in Mr Obama’s just-announced strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan boils down to this: just how is the United States going to ensure that the Pakistani military establishment plays ball? The preceding sentence is from March 2009, after the first “AfPak strategy” speech. Nothing since then, and nothing in today’s speech answers that question. The United States might have warned Pakistan “with unusual bluntness that its use of insurgent groups to pursue policy goals”cannot continue”″, but how does it propose to enforce this? We don’t know from Mr Obama’s speech.
With almost 100,000 troops the US-led coalition might just be able to reverse the gains that taliban have made since 2006. But unless they fix the Pakistan side of the equation, those reverses will be reversed the moment US troops get back home to vote in the 2012 presidential elections.
It’s possible that Mr Obama’s plans for Pakistan don’t make it to the lectern. But it’s also possible that they exist only in a vague sort of wishful way. We’ll know.
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