Afghanistan Mission Creep Watch - The Karl Eikenberry, I Could Kiss You Version
Posted by Michael Cohen
Earlier tonight I was preparing to come home and write a long and anguished blog post about how President Obama was on the verge of sending his presidency off a cliff by approving the dispatching of 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan. So you can imagine my gleeful surprise when I came home to read this:
After the increasingly depressing leaks of the past few days, this is just stunning news. And it gets even more interesting . . . because apparently our man in Kabul - Ambassador Karl Eikenberry -- may well be leading the charge:
What's perhaps most interesting is that Ikenberry's concern seems to pretty closely dovetail with the issue raised in today's NYT article about Obama's concern that Karzai is not a serious partner for a counter-insurgency:
U.S. officials were particularly irritated by a interview this week in which a defiant Karzai said that the West has little interest in Afghanistan and that its troops are there only for self-serving reasons.
And the Times advances the story even further:
. . . Pentagon officials said the low-end option of 10,000 to 15,000 more troops would mean little or no significant increase in American combat forces in Afghanistan. The bulk of the additional forces would go to train the Afghan Army, with a smaller number focused on hunting and killing terrorists, the officials said.The low-end option would essentially reject the more ambitious counterinsurgency strategy envisioned by General McChrystal, which calls for a large number of forces to protect the Afghan population, work on development projects and build up the country’s civil institutions.
I'm really not sure what to make of all this; the leaking that is going on here is just ridiculous. It's very possible that this is a trial balloon meant to light a fire underKarzai . But honestly I don't think so. Instead, I think President Obama is taking charge of his Afghan policy in a significant and long overdue way - and more important, standing up to his generals and national securityadvisors who seem to want to shoot first and ask questions later.
For what it's worth, that's change I can believe in.