Obama's Afghan exit plan 'not tied to particular conditions on the ground '

After all this time, it appears to me that Obama still can't make up his mind about what to do in Afghanistan.

On the one hand, he will have a timetable for withdrawal not dependent on any progress that occurs on the ground. But he will also say that the timetable will not be as rigid as it is in Iraq, where all forces are to be withdrawn by the end of 2011.

How can you do both? I'm sure our president will explain everything.

Peter Baker, Eric Scmitt, and David Sanger report for the New York Times:

Although the speech was still in draft form, the officials said the president wanted to use the address at the United States Military Academy at West Point on Tuesday night not only to announce the immediate order to deploy roughly 30,000 more troops, but also to convey how he intends to turn the fight over to the Kabul government."It's accurate to say that he will be more explicit about both goals and time frame than has been the case before and than has been part of the public discussion," said a senior official, who requested anonymity to discuss the speech before it is delivered. "He wants to give a clear sense of both the time frame for action and how the war will eventually wind down."

The officials would not disclose the time frame. But they said it would not be tied to particular conditions on the ground nor would it be as firm as the current schedule for withdrawing troops in Iraq, where Mr. Obama has committed to withdrawing most combat units by August and all forces by the end of 2011.

Officials of one allied nation who have been extensively briefed on the president's plan said, however, that Mr. Obama would describe how the American presence would be ratcheted back after the buildup, while making clear that a significant American presence in Afghanistan would remain for a long while. That is designed in part to signal to Pakistan that the United States will not abandon the region and to allay Pakistani fears that India will fill the vacuum created as America pulls back.

There is also word that the US will seek a closer strategic relationship with Pakistan. That will be great - if the Pakistani government wants it. Right now, the Pak government is torn between leaning on America and pushing us away. They want our money, but not our advice. Indeed, the terrorists are making hay of the notion that the government of President Zardari is little better than a puppet of the US since we have just authorized aid that amounts to $7.5 billion over 5 years.

Obama is having a "last minute" meeting with his national security people so some things might change. But there is little doubt that the emphasis on this strategy will be finding a way out rather than finding a way to win.

 





After all this time, it appears to me that Obama still can't make up his mind about what to do in Afghanistan.

On the one hand, he will have a timetable for withdrawal not dependent on any progress that occurs on the ground. But he will also say that the timetable will not be as rigid as it is in Iraq, where all forces are to be withdrawn by the end of 2011.

How can you do both? I'm sure our president will explain everything.

Peter Baker, Eric Scmitt, and David Sanger report for the New York Times:

Although the speech was still in draft form, the officials said the president wanted to use the address at the United States Military Academy at West Point on Tuesday night not only to announce the immediate order to deploy roughly 30,000 more troops, but also to convey how he intends to turn the fight over to the Kabul government.

"It's accurate to say that he will be more explicit about both goals and time frame than has been the case before and than has been part of the public discussion," said a senior official, who requested anonymity to discuss the speech before it is delivered. "He wants to give a clear sense of both the time frame for action and how the war will eventually wind down."

The officials would not disclose the time frame. But they said it would not be tied to particular conditions on the ground nor would it be as firm as the current schedule for withdrawing troops in Iraq, where Mr. Obama has committed to withdrawing most combat units by August and all forces by the end of 2011.

Officials of one allied nation who have been extensively briefed on the president's plan said, however, that Mr. Obama would describe how the American presence would be ratcheted back after the buildup, while making clear that a significant American presence in Afghanistan would remain for a long while. That is designed in part to signal to Pakistan that the United States will not abandon the region and to allay Pakistani fears that India will fill the vacuum created as America pulls back.

There is also word that the US will seek a closer strategic relationship with Pakistan. That will be great - if the Pakistani government wants it. Right now, the Pak government is torn between leaning on America and pushing us away. They want our money, but not our advice. Indeed, the terrorists are making hay of the notion that the government of President Zardari is little better than a puppet of the US since we have just authorized aid that amounts to $7.5 billion over 5 years.

Obama is having a "last minute" meeting with his national security people so some things might change. But there is little doubt that the emphasis on this strategy will be finding a way out rather than finding a way to win.

 





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