It is painfully clear that we are not “winning” in Afghanistan, and that we need a new strategy.
While President-elect Obama has carefully calibrated and qualified his “timetable” strategy for Iraq, he has unequivocally promised to send more troops and more resources to fight the “good war” in Afghanistan.
Today’s front-page story in the New York Times explains that General David D McKiernan, the top commander in Afghanistan, is planning to deploy the “vast majority” of the 4,000 new troops arriving in January to protect Kabul, rather than to fight the insurgency in the tribal areas. This sounds like a tactical stopgap measure to protect President Karzai’s extraordinarily weak government, rather than a strategic shift.
The Obama administration needs to be clear with the American people about what our strategic goals in Afghanistan are, what tactics his administration intends to employ to achieve those goals, and how this conflict fits into our broader national security portfolio.
He needs to explain why sending more troops and more money to Afghanistan – while we are hemorrhaging jobs at home and face a multiplicity of challenges abroad – is an appropriate use of our scarce resources.
We can’t afford any more open-ended, open-wallet, “trust me” wars.