Foreign Policy

The Peace Candidate's Plans for Afghanistan: Turnaround in a Year. Or Two.


"Even with these additional forces, I have to tell you that 2009 is going to be a tough year," Obama's top commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David McKiernan, said after [President] Obama approved 17,000 additional forces to target the spreading insurgency in southern Afghanistan.

McKiernan called the war in the south "at best stalemated," but said the new troops can gain a toehold. The semantic space between losing and "not winning," as Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen has said, leaves room for the military turnaround that U.S. leaders hope will come this year or next….

Military analysts have warned that U.S. casualties could double this year. Already, U.S. deaths in Afghanistan increased threefold during the first two months of 2009 compared with the same period last yearnumbers that have daunted U.S. officials as they turn their attention from Iraq to the new battle lines in Afghanistan.

"Unlike Iraq and some of the other problems, this is an area where I've been somewhat uncertain in my own mind what the right path forward is," Defense Secretary Robert Gates told reporters last week.

Gates worried aloud "about an open-ended commitment of increasing numbers of troops for a variety of reasons, including the size of our footprint in Afghanistan and my worry that the Afghans come to see us as not their partners and allies but as part of their problem."

More troops and less success? Sounds like a plan. Though not much of a foreign policy.

Turnaround in a year or two? Are we talking about war or the economy?

More here.

Reason on Afghanistan.