Faultlines in the Afghan war

Even to a layman, the US Afghan doctrine appears hopelessly mired in confusion. Time and again, some odd revelation pops up offering a deeper look into the darkening and seemingly bottomless abyss that is now Afghanistan. Having adopted the war in Afghanistan as his single, most important foreign policy objective, US President Barack Obama now seems to be rapidly losing his grip on what has come to be known as Obama’s war.

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Published: Thu 23 Sep 2010, 9:29 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 1:52 PM

With Bob Woodward’s new book, Obama’s Wars, the fissures within the US administration have been laid bare. In a way, there’s nothing new in all of this. The differences between the Pentagon and the State Department have often been aired by disgruntled elements within the administration. There seems to be a clear lack of cohesive strategy and coordination of efforts to breathe life into the US war doctrine. The shakeup in the US military brass only a few months back did impact, irrespective of the fact that General Stanley Mc Chrystal was replaced with a more senior and experienced figure in General David Petraeus.

Leaked excerpts of Woodward’s book suggest that the exit of US forces from Afghanistan is Obama’s top priority now. This is despite his commanders expressing contradictory viewpoints. Already the much touted July 2011 withdrawal date given by Obama has drawn criticism for its obvious fallout on the insurgency. Despite the extra 30,000 troops deployed under a presidential order, the coalition is struggling to take on the insurgents. The involvement of US troops and further committment to what is seen as an intractable and unwinnable war is a major worrisome factor for Obama and his advisors. They feel that the Democrats standing is likely to get affected as will their chances of winning the next election. Besides, infighting among Obama’s advisors and their scepticism about victory in Afghanistan has been highlighted. The list could go on. The crux of the matter is the US administration, including Obama, finds itself in a deadlock. Though their intent to win this war cannot be doubted, ground realities and faulty policies are undermining their resolve. Clearly, there’s no way out an honourable retreat.



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