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Obama’s Afghanistan Strategy Review…Even More Troops? Really?

March 27, 2009

Today Obama announced the results of the Afghanistan Strategy Review that he asked for when he first took office. And the plan he laid out said some very good things. He is committed to regional diplomacy and development. He understands that a healthy and safe Afghanistan will require robust diplomacy with Pakistan, India, China, Russia, and Iran. About increasing development, he recognized: “To advance security, opportunity, and justice – not just in Kabul, but from the bottom up in the provinces – we need agricultural specialists and educators; engineers and lawyers.”

And yet, Obama is asking for another 4,000 troops on top of the 17,ooo that he just asked to be deployed.

This statement summarizes Obama’s Afghanistan plan: “A campaign against extremism will not succeed with bullets or bombs alone.” This sounds great, expcept for the last word, which may undermine the entire rest of the sentence, Obama’s whole plan, and Afghanistan. Apparently Obama didn’t read FCNL’s message that More Troops Won’t Bring More Peace. That wasn’t just a catchy slogan. It is true.

Jim Fine, the resident expert on everything Middle East at FCNL, said this of today’s announcement: “President Obama’s new strategy includes constructive commitments to regional and international diplomacy and civilian development. But the president has also committed the U.S. to aggressive new military tactics and a wider war that could easily spiral out of control and overwhelm the constructive elements of his plan.”

If everyone realizes that real peace in Afghanistan is going to come from development and diplomacy, why is the U.S. wasting so much money and risking so many lives sending even more troops? Why not use these resources on diplomacy and development? Someone asked me yesterday, but how do we keep aid workers safe? Here’s a novel idea…what if we used local people? Another novel idea…what if the increased troop presence is actually stregthening the Taliban?

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