When President Obama unveils his plans for Afghanistan tonight, he should “recommit to the strategy he outlined in March: a fully-resourced counterinsurgency,” says Sen. Kit Bond (R., Mo.), vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, to NRO.
“Talk is cheap,” says Bond. “The president needs to show us that he is commited to a policy that will put Afghanistan on a solid road toward lasting peace. We need to continue to go in and stabilize the country, valley by valley, helping to build a stronger economic base while training the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police.”
Explaining these goals tonight at West Point is crucial, says Bond. “The American people are ambivalent about Afghanistan,” he says. “The president needs to rally support and show that we are not focused on an exit strategy, but a success strategy. That’s what the American people want to hear. That’s what our troops and potential allies need to hear, too.”
Numerous outlets have reported that Obama plans to send an additional 34,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan. That number, says Bond, is “probably the minimum.”
“I hope that President Obama is basing his strategy on what he’s hearing from General McChrystal and other generals on the ground,” says Bond. “Hopefully he’s not basing his decisions around what he’s hearing from General Axelrod, General Emanuel, or General Jarrett.”
“Success needs to be based on what’s happening on the ground, not a political timetable,” says Bond. “Tonight, if Obama gives Afghanistan a political timeline that’s too tight, then he’s telling our troops that we’re not serious, our allies that we’re only there for a little while longer, and gives great encouragement to the Taliban. The Afghans have been abandoned previously, which resulted, in part, to 9/11. I fear that history will repeat itself.”
Obama, adds Bond, has taken “far longer than he should have” on determining his Afghan strategy. “This should have been job one in August. He announced his strategy in March then picked his man to carry out the promise he campaigned on. This delay has only cost us time and given the Taliban more opportunities.”