The Road To Obama’s Afghanistan Decision
The Washington Post explains the lead-up to the president’s Afghanistan speech. President Obama wanted a faster surge and a more clearly defined exit strategy than was offered in the original options.
At a meeting more than two weeks earlier, he had asked for a plan to deploy and pull out troops quickly — a “surge” similar to the one that his Republican predecessor had executed in Iraq, but with a fixed date to begin withdrawals.
What was in front of Obama — scenarios in which it took too long to get in and too long to get out — was not what he wanted.
When Obama got back from Asia 10 days later, he was offered a plan more in line with what he wanted. Because of deteriorating conditions in Afghanistan they were “starting from zero after eight years of war,” according to national security adviser James L. Jones. Interesting to note is that General Stanley McChrystal was making recommendations based on the understanding that his mission was to “defeat” the Taliban. Through the many discussions conducted to decide policy, it became apparent that “defeat” of the Taliban was an unrealistic goal. It was more reasonable to work to lessen their impact, as they are too much a fabric of Afghanistan to extinguish them.
One of the most contentious issues in the Obama plan, the timeline to withdraw, is for the purpose of keeping Afghan President Karzai on a short leash.
The idea, a senior administration official said, was to “inject a sense of urgency into the Afghan training program.” If it’s a secret, he said, “it’s not leverage.” It was eventually decided to leave the speed of the withdrawal, once begun, for later determination. Gates insisted that language qualifying the pace of the drawdown as “conditions-based” be inserted in Obama’s speech.Click here for reuse options!
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