During the campaign, Barack Obama repeatedly said that we were fighting on the wrong front in this War Against Militant Islamism, and that we needed more troops in Afghanistan to fight and defeat al Qaeda. Here is what I wrote almost a month before election day:
Once the progress in Iraq became all too obvious, even to Obama, he credited the success to the increase in troops, the troops themselves, the Sunni Awakening movements, and Muqtada al Sadr, but I haven’t heard him say a single word about the actual strategy that helped turn Iraq around. The surge in troop levels was only part of the overall plan.
We shouldn’t forget that when violence was at its very worst in Iraq, the freshman Senator from Illinois crafted a bill that would withdraw all combat brigades in less than sixteen months. The repercussions of such a withdrawal at such a time would have been disastrous, in my opinion.
Going forward, this issue cannot be more significant because Obama is proposing more troops for Afghanistan, yet he hasn’t said a thing about what those troops would actually do when they get there. “Get al Qaeda” isn’t a plan, it’s a hope, and we know hope is not a plan, even when words like “change” are thrown in. McCain has proposed a counterinsurgency (COIN) strategy along the lines of the successful strategy employed in Iraq. Obama has just said “get al Qaeda”, or strengthen NATO, or something like that. I’ve looked at Obama’s issues, and he has no plan for Afghanistan. In his July 2008 speech, Obama outlined what he wanted to do, but failed to address how. But the bottom line is, additional troops and additional training and additional monetary aid aren’t going to help if the towns and cities and districts don’t have security. This is one of the reasons why I say that Obama is a military and foreign policy lightweight.
My concern from the outset was that Obama never outlined any sort of strategy to accomplish our objectives in Afghanistan. Now that he’s commander-in-chief, only now is Obama concerned that he never outlined any sort of strategy to accomplish our objectives in Afghanistan. This is ridiculous. At Villainous Company, Cassandra asks:
*Now* He’s Asking Questions???
If the Taliban takes over Afghanistan, the environment will once again be suitable for al Qaeda and other militant Islamist groups to grow and fester. This is why Taliban hardliners should have no business being anywhere near the reigns of power. This should be a key diplomatic pillar when it comes to Afghanistan.
Obama wrongly resisted the counterinsurgency (COIN) strategy in Iraq, the very strategy that contributed to Iraq’s current stability. He would be foolish to reject a COIN-centered strategy for Afghanistan. It will be difficult there, but it is not without solutions. We need to succeed in Afghanistan not only for Afghanistan’s sake, but to pressure the Pakistani government to gain more control over its own country. Max Boot outlines some of the parallels between Iraq and Afghanistan. Interesting that the “war is lost” rhetoric heard in Iraq is being trotted out for Afghanistan. We all know that the situation there is now grim, but backing out of a major front in this War Against Militant Islamism sounds grimmer.