Where Will Obama Take Us in Afghanistan?

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Although
he has focused most closely so far on a stimulus package likely
to stimulate government spending more than the U.S. economy in general,
President Barack Obama still seems committed to escalating the war
in Afghanistan.

Defense Secretary
Robert Gates purposely tried in recent testimony to tamp down expectations
and delineate more modest objectives, noting that it was likely
only 10,000 to 12,000 additional U.S. troops (on top of 36,000 already
there) could be in Afghanistan by midsummer. But he stressed that
the commitment still stands to bring in 30,000 additional troops
as soon as feasible.

In testimony
before the House Armed Services Committee, Gates said the U.S. military
would be used mainly for direct fighting, expanding the scope of
U.S. anti-Taliban military activity, while European troops from
NATO countries should focus on "nation-building" activities
like training the Afghan military and police forces and engaging
in reconstruction activity.

That’s about
as wrong-headed an approach as can be imagined. Let’s hope the Obama
administration rethinks the strategy drastically.

Read
the rest of the article

February
20, 2009

Alan
Bock [send him mail] is Senior Essayist at the Orange County
Register. He is the author of Ambush
at Ruby Ridge
and Waiting
to Inhale: The Politics of Medical Marijuana
.

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