Posted by: Democratic Thinker | September 25, 2009

Afganistan: Obama Plan = Rumsfeld Plan

The Brookings Institute has published an analysis of the plan to focus more narrowly on counterterrorism in Afganistan instead of proceeding with stated US goals. See excerpt:


Why We Can’t Go Small In Afghanistan

Canadian soldiers watch as U.S. Blackhawk helicopters land during an operation in the Panjwaii district of Kandahar province.Reuters/Finbarr O’Reilly

September 24, 2009 — As the Afghanistan mission has encountered growing troubles this summer, the debate about whether to lower U.S. goals and focus more narrowly on counterterrorism has again re-emerged. Such a shift sounds appealing. If advocates are right, we could protect the United States against terrorism while lowering costs, casualties and commitment in Afghanistan – a war that by some measures is about to become the longest in U.S. history.

Those who favor the counterterrorism option – as opposed to deeper engagement – imply that we can destroy al-Qaeda’s core with a few U.S. special forces teams, modern intelligence fusion centers, cruise-missile-carrying ships and unmanned aerial vehicles of the type that recently killed Pakistani extremist leader Baitullah Mehsud. Some advocates of this kind of plan would continue our intense efforts to train Afghan security forces. Others would not. But all envision a dramatically reduced U.S. role.

Pretty good – if it would work.

Alas, it would not. In fact, we have seen this movie before. In the early years after the Taliban fell in 2001, the main American presence in Afghanistan consisted precisely of the above kinds of assets and attempted precisely what counterterrorism advocates now favor as though they are coming up with something new. That was Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s “light footprint” strategy.

(Read complete analysis at original site)