14 March 2009

I'm in the wrong line of work

The expected plan for Afghanistan will most likely be announced in the very near future. However, a closed session between General David Petraeus and a special envoy to Pakistan provided some key insights as to what such a plan might look like. As someone (i.e., me) said earlier, it significantly scales back many of the original goals for Afghanistan, settling for population security and stability of the central government. Basically, I think most people are coming to terms with the fact that a country which, even after eight and a half years of American intervention, sentences a man to life in prison for forwarding an article to his friends that women should have more rights or for translating the Quran into Dari, is not going to become a beacon of liberal democracy any time in the near future.

Highlights of the plan allegedly put forward by Petraeus:

Gen. David Petraeus, head of U.S. Central Command, and Richard Holbrooke, the U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, met privately on Thursday with more than a dozen senators. Although the session was confidential, it was part of the administration's effort to recruit support for a trimmed-down U.S. mission in the war begun by former President George W. Bush in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The White House review was expected to frame U.S. objectives in two major categories: strategic regional goals for stability in impoverished Afghanistan and nuclear-armed Pakistan and smaller-scale warfighting goals for the growing U.S. military commitment in Afghanistan.

Broadly speaking, the Obama administration was expected to endorse a doctrine of counterinsurgency that has military and civilian components and that scales back U.S. expectations for Afghan democracy and self-sufficiency. A main theme is the premise that the military alone cannot win the war, officials said.

The review was expected to focus on containing the Taliban and the proliferation of lesser-known militant groups, providing a greater sense of security and stability for Afghan civilians and increasing the size and proficiency of the Afghan armed forces.

''I would say that, at a minimum, the mission is to prevent the Taliban from retaking power against a democratically elected government in Afghanistan and thus turning Afghanistan, potentially, again, into a haven for al-Qaida and other extremist groups,'' Defense Secretary Robert Gates said in an interview with National Public Radio this week.

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