Obama’s flawed Afghan strategy (M.K. Bhadrakumar in The Hindu)

Kritiek op president Obama’s nieuwe ‘Af-Pak’ strategie blijft in de internationale madia groeien. In Nederland zag ik nog geen inhoudelijk commentaar op zijn aanpak die ook van groot belang is voor de NAVO – en dus ook ons eigen land.

Barack Obama runs the risk of getting into a quagmire of the sort that imperilled Lyndon Johnson when he inherited a war [Vietnam] that consumed him.

While insisting that the primary goal of the new Afghan strategy be narrow, President Barack Obama has actually widened the U.S. involvement in Afghanistan and the region. He runs the risk of getting into a political and military quagmire. The “maximalists” seem to have won the debate within the administration.

Broadly speaking, those who counselled that the U.S. roll back its agenda of stabilisation of Afghanistan and put strict parameters on troop deployment and the commitment of resources — among whom was Vice-President Joseph Biden — lost ground, while those who argued for a continued commitment to the mission in Afghanistan and for dedicating the time, resources and U.S. leadership necessary to stabilise the region prevailed.

In a telling remark during a Fox Network television interview, Secretary of Defence Robert Gates, asked about the difference between George W. Bush’s “war on terror” and Mr. Obama’s “campaign against extremism,” said with barely disguised triumphalism: “I think that’s people looking for differences where there are none.” The new strategy signifies an escalation. In sum, the U.S. is launching a bloody pacification campaign…

..Mr. Obama’s “regional policy” means the U.S. intends to pursue its new Afghan strategy while other countries will be offered the historic opportunity to help Washington achieve its objective. Arguably, other countries, especially regional players, are bound to wonder if this does not smack of U.S. unilateralism. Indeed, a hard-nosed Moscow commentator noted: “The message is very clear: the U.S. will fight and conduct reforms in any case, while others are being invited to help. This is a very harsh approach, reminiscent of George W. Bush’s unilateral actions.” In other words, the geopolitical agenda of the U.S.’ Afghan enterprise remains intact.

Evidently, the strategy is deeply flawed. That raises the question: why such a strategy at this juncture? On balance, Mr. Obama runs the risk of getting into a quagmire of the sort that imperilled Lyndon Johnson when he inherited a war that consumed him. Therefore, the high probability is that such a “maximalist” strategy has been deliberately crafted at this stage at the outset of the Obama presidency with intent that it can always be finessed as the war progresses and if the commanders on the field fail to deliver.

(The writer is a former diplomat.)

Obama’s flawed Afghan strategy (M.K. Bhadrakumar in The Hindu)

President Obama’s strategie voor Aghanistan en Pakistan (‘AfPak’) zou beter kunnen worden gewijzigd – en uitgebreid – in een strategie voor Pakistan en Afghanistan (‘PakAf’). Want het stabiliseren van Afghanistan heeft geen zin zonder dat tegelijkertijd de politieke en sociaal-maatschappelijke omstandigheden in Pakistan worden verbeterd. Maar dat houdt een langdurige en veelzijdige betrokkenheid met dat, door binnenlandse tegenstellingen verscheurd land, in, betoogt deze analist. [Maar dat zou in feite inhouden dat Amerika moet gaan nation-rebuilding , waartoe zij m.i. niet is toegerust noch ingesteld].

From AfPak to PakAf: A Response to the New U.S. Strategy for South Asia (Council on Foreign Relations)


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