December 11, 2012

December 11, 2012 | Commentary on Afghanistan

Is the U.S. Pursuing the Right Strategy in Afghanistan?

When President Obama undertook his strategic review of Afghanistan policy he chose a strategy that matched his chosen narrative of a decisive leader whose moves on the battlefield conveniently coincided with his political calendar.  That may have served his reelection campaign well...not so much the war on the ground.

The president gave commanders on the ground half the troops they needed and half the time required before beginning his drawdown. Further he telegraphed to the Taliban his every move. Finally he rushed the fielding of afghan security forces without adequate training or vetting. As a result, he repeated the mistakes of the previous president and gave the Taliban a chance to get back in the game....and they have.

The president has created a security situation that is unsustainable after 2014. When it all collapses after the U.S. combat troops leave. He will adopt the Bart Simpson strategy..."I didn't do it."

The problem is we will be right back where we were on September 10, 2001.

There are already signs this is happening with reports of foreign fighters joining the Taliban to learn how to fight the West.

This is war that can still be won, but it would require the U.S. stop running for the exit and working to build sustainable effective capacity to provide security in the countryside.

About the Author

James Jay Carafano, Ph.D. Vice President for the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy, and the E. W. Richardson Fellow

First appeared in Politico's "The Arena."