Counterterrorism at the expense of Counterinsurgency

Earlier this month I wrote an article criticizing as dangerous George Will’s plan to withdraw from Afghanistan. Now, it has come out that Joe Biden is advocating a similar plan to draw down troop levels, give up protecting the Afghan government and people and instead use special forces and drones to attack Al-Qaida bases inside Pakistan.

Now the Obama administration is considering completely changing their strategy that they announced six months ago. Before that, Obama committed 21,000 troops shortly after taking office, then in March he committed himself to preventing a Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.

Now he’s reconsidering strategy before we even have a chance to fully implement the previous strategy. This just goes to show that Obama is far too inexperienced in national security matters. This could be made up for with competent advisers, but except for Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Obama has none. And Gates has been the main advocate for a “surge” strategy in Afghanistan.

If you think that Joe Biden’s idea sounds a lot like US strategy towards Afghanistan under the Clinton Administration before 9/11, you’re not alone. Bill Roggio has an excellent and detailed article on why counterterrorism at the expense of counterinsurgency will allow Al-Qaida to re-establish bases in the region. It may lead to renewed support for the Taliban from within the Pakistani intelligence services, and reliance on cross border attacks could increase the power of anti-American elements in the Pakistani government.

In short, pulling out of Afghanistan will do nothing but harm America’s national security.

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