The Obama Plan: Yawn

by Joshua Foust on 3/30/2009 · 2 comments

FT. BENNING, GA — First off, thanks to everyone who emailed me a copy of the White Paper. My thoughts: That’s it? Al Qaeda is bad, Al Qaeda is in Pakistan, so let’s expand the war there while flooding the region with civilian experts that don’t yet exist? Flooding Pakistan with yet more practically unaccountable American money? Expanding the drone war?

Wow. Focusing only on corruption in Afghanistan kind of misses the point. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. This has been a long time coming, and Pakistan watchers have been wondering just where all this escalation talk in Pakistan was leading.

As Noah Shachtman has been noting, this really does amount to declaring war against an entire region of Pakistan. But as Judah Grunstein rightly notes, Congress never authorized the use of military force in Pakistan, which introduces another layer of complexity to Obama’s escalation plan… and that’s ignoring the Clintonian policy of relying on missile strikes (and, frankly, a Rumsfeldian plan of relying on air strikes) instead of adopting an actual, populace-centric policy for Pakistan.

I also note the use of the term “contact group,” which tells me that Barnett Rubin and Ahmed Rashid are now playing major roles in shaping U.S. policy in the area. I may not agree with the feasibility of their ideas, but it past time for some adults to be driving things, and I’m glad to see them involved.

But overall, this doesn’t say much we haven’t already heard. None of this is a surprise, since the Obama team has been publicly focus-grouping every proposal in here. But this brings up a different point: given how thoroughly banal this is: who is the intended audience? Does Obama intend this to be his intention to the rest of the world, or does he intend this so be for his domestic constituency? I suspect it is the latter.


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This post was written by...

– author of 1849 posts on Registan.net.

Joshua Foust is a Fellow at the American Security Project and the author of Afghanistan Journal: Selections from Registan.net. His research focuses primarily on Central and South Asia. Joshua is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a columnist for PBS Need to Know. Joshua appears regularly on the BBC World News, Aljazeera, and international public radio. Joshua's writing has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel, the New York Times, Reuters, and the Christian Science Monitor. Follow him on twitter: @joshuafoust

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{ 2 comments }

Inkan1969 March 30, 2009 at 10:03 am

The sooner this “civilian investment” proposal is explicitly spelled out the better. Obama needs to clearly show that he has a political solution to go with any military response to the Taliban and al-Qaeda. And somehow pressure needs to be put on him to abandon the drone missle policy at once. An 100000 strong ANA is a nice dream, but how is the coaltion and Afghanistan going to actually make it real?

by: Inkan1969 March 31, 2009 at 4:55 am

The sooner this “civilian investment” proposal is explicitly spelled out the better. Obama needs to clearly show that he has a political solution to go with any military response to the Taliban and al-Qaeda. And somehow pressure needs to be put on him to abandon the drone missle policy at once. An 100000 strong ANA is a nice dream, but how is the coaltion and Afghanistan going to actually make it real?
Sorry, forgot to add great post! Can’t wait to see your next post!

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