Friday, March 27, 2009

we have a strategy!

The New York Times this morning reported a new strategy for Afghanistan, though one that sounds very much like the old strategy: 4,000 'military trainers' plus some hundreds of civilian experts to be added to the 17,000 troops already scheduled for deployment, bringing the US presence up to 60,000, plus some billions of dollars for Pakistan. Oh, yes, and some benchmarks for progress. 'The moves are part of a broad push to prevent the stalemated Afghan war from destabilizing both Afghanistan and Pakistan,' says the NYT.

Al Qaeda, meanwhile, also has a new strategy, and it too sounds very much like the old one: 'A suicide bomber detonated his explosives Friday in a crowded mosque in northwest Pakistan, killing at least 50 people and leaving more bodies buried in the rubble of the building', according to the Washington Post. Though it seems odd for Muslims to target a mosque, the target evidently was the Pakistani Frontier Force that is supposed to police the AfPak frontier.

I'm not sure what 'stalemated' means in the context of a counter-insurgency operation, which is more likely to be measured in decades than in months. Is the NYT now using the Bush administration's seeming success in Iraq as a measuring stick for the Obama administration's progress in Afghanistan? That would be a switch! Or is 'stalemated' simply the new code for 'quagmire'?

Blue skies! -- Dan Ford


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