James Forsyth

Obama’s choice on Afghanistan

Obama’s choice on Afghanistan
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The New York Times reports that President Obama has re-opened internal debate about Afghan policy, suggesting that he is going to u-turn from the counter-insurgency strategy that he announced in March. It seems that Joe Biden, who lost the policy argument last time round, might win out with his argument that, “Instead of increasing troops, officials said, Mr. Biden proposed scaling back the overall American military presence. Rather than trying to protect the Afghan population from the Taliban, American forces would concentrate on strikes against Qaeda cells, primarily in Pakistan, using special forces, Predator missile attacks and other surgical tactics.”

If Obama were to adopt this strategy, it would put him at odds with both General McChrystal, the commander of US forces in Afghanistan, who wants more troops and Petraeus who said in his lecture to Policy Exchange last week that: “countering terrorists and extremism requires more than just counter-terrorist forces.” A split between Obama and the most impressive generals in recent US military history would hardly bode well for the success of this administration’s foreign policy.