Sunday, September 20, 2009

Obama and Afghanistan

In an interview, Obama indicated that he will not add more troops to Afghanistan unless/until there is a strategy that requires it. The interview, like the earlier post today, reflects a reality-based administration that considers the various alternatives, takes seriously dissenting opinions and then makes considered decisions. You may or may not like Obama's decisions, but one should respect the improvement in the decision-making process. He also demonstrates some keen insights--that sometimes the military, just like other bureaucratic agencies, think more of x leads to better outcomes.

It is interesting that I am now getting flashbacks to my days in the Pentagon, where the US and its NATO allies conflicted over which term should be used in the documents: benchmarks or milestones.
Obama didn’t answer directly on whether he supported a timeline, but said his strategy contained “benchmarks” for achievements to assess the progress of the U.S. mission in Afghanistan
Benchmarks are condition-based ways to view progress and milestones/timelines are time-based. Bush sought milestones in the Balkans so that the US could get out, while Europe, which would feel the consequences more directly of any failures in the Balkans, generally preferred for conditions to improve before pulling out. Ironic is it not that the Dems in the Congress are pushing for timelines and Obama is focused on conditions.

For the latest on Canada's views on Afghanistan, including a few quotes of yours truly, see this story.

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