Analysis

Will He Stay Or Will He Go?

Is Obama planning to escalate the war in Afghanistan or wind it down?

Some confusing news from Washington. The New York Times reports that President Barack Obama “plans to lay out a timeframe for winding down the American involvement in the war in Afghanistan,” but The Wall Street Journal reports he has come up with a “revamped war strategy … that includes tens of thousands of additional US forces and benchmarks for the eventual transfer of Afghanistan’s defense to the Afghan government.”

The president is scheduled to meet with members of Congress next Tuesday before speaking at West Point, where he will outline his (exit) strategy for the war. The Times believes this signals a “winding down” of the American involvements in spite of sending 30,000 extra troops.

According to an anonymous administration official, Obama “wants to give a clear sense of both the timeframe for action and how the war will eventually wind down,” although, for now, we will see more action first before anything winds down. There is no talk of even a timeframe yet, let alone withdrawal. The Times‘ assessment would seem a little premature.

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3 comments

  1. I was going to enter an article on this and the times, but you beat me to it Nick and good on you too, it’s better than I would’ve done.
    The idea of putting a time frame on a war is silly and reminds one of limmited war and LBJ putting the wheels of withdrawal in motion before the turning point of the Vietnam campaign had been reached. Thus failure. The Surge strategy is a quick fix and as was seen in Iraq, it had its merit but it by no-means ended the deployment and I fear that’s what Obama thinks it will achieve in Afghan’.

  2. I’m not sure. Throughout his campaign, Obama stressed how important winning Afghanistan was and he doesn’t appear to have lost that conviction. Rather I think his promise to start withdrawing troops before election time should be understood as a way to smooth Democrats. I wouldn’t be surprised if American troops were to remain in the country for many years to come.

  3. They wont have much choice if they want to succeed. My concern remains, the promise to start troop withdrawals could easily lead onto action. The people want troops out, Obama got votes on that. Once set in motion, these things have a tendancy to continue of their own accord.

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