A dangerous Afghanistan strategy

Pakistanis react to the planned deployment of additional American troops in Afghanistan. 

Obama’s new Afghanistan strategy is doomed to failure, said Mosharraf Zaidi in the Islamabad, Pakistan, News. His plan to send 30,000 more troops, which he announced last week, focuses only on Afghan territory. But it is here in Pakistan that the militants keep their bases. In his speech announcing the surge, Obama pretended this was no problem. He claimed that Pakistani public opinion had turned against extremists and that there was “no doubt” that the United States and Pakistan “share a common enemy.” In reality, Pakistani military and intelligence services don’t believe that for a minute. In their minds, “Pakistan’s enemies are those terrorists that are killing Pakistanis. America’s enemies are those that are killing Americans.” These are different groups, and Pakistan is going after only one of them. Obama apparently thinks he can continue the Bush strategy of trying “to buy, coerce, or cajole Pakistan’s military and political elite into doing things that they consider suicidal.” It won’t work.

Obama doesn’t really care about that, because he has already given up, said retired Pakistani Gen. Mirza Aslam Beg, also in the News. The key feature of Obama’s new plan for Afghanistan isn’t the troop surge, or even the effort to bolster its civil society, but the exit strategy. By insisting that there be an end date to U.S. involvement, Obama essentially acknowledged that “the underlying idea is not to win the war, but to ensure a safe exit.” If Obama really wanted to defeat the Taliban and the other insurgent groups, he would commit far more than the 30,000 troops he promised, and for a longer period of time. Instead, he’s sending a token force. The pretense at a last great push is “meant to cover the shame of defeat, which is difficult for a superpower to admit.”

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up
To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us