Afghan Journal

Lifting the veil on conflict, culture and politics

from Tales from the Trail:

Obama: Not worrying about perceptions on Afghanistan

OBAMA/INTERVIEWAs President Barack Obama nears a decision on whether to send more U.S. troops to Afghanistan, some experts say he should consider the signal his decision will send about his broader commitment to the war, which has grown increasingly unpopular at home.

The White House has been frustrated that its internal deliberations on the Afghanistan strategy have leaked into public view, something that Obama acknowledged on Monday in an interview with Reuters.

But will perceptions of the deliberations affect the decision itself?

In the view of some, Obama might risk sending a signal of a weakening commitment in Afghanistan were he to approve anything short of the 40,000 troop increase requested by Gen. Stanley McChrystal.

Obama says concern about such perceptions won't be a factor for him.

"That's not how I think about the problem," he said in the Oval Office interview. "My obligation -- my solemn obligation, as commander-in-chief, is to get this right. And then I worry about people's perceptions later."

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Targeted killings in Pakistan and elsewhere : official U.S. policy now ?

One of the things U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ran into last week during her trip to Pakistan was anger over attacks by unmanned "drone" aircraft inside Pakistan and along the border with Afghanistan.

 One questioner during an interaction with members of the public said the missile strikes by Predator aircraft amounted to "executions without trial" for those killed.  Another asked Clinton to define terrorism and whether she considered the drone attacks to be an act of terrorim like the car bomb that ripped through Peshawar that same week killing more than 100 people.

from Tales from the Trail:

Victory for Karzai, minefield for Obama?

Former President George W. Bush used to talk about the "soft bigotry of low expectations." He was talking about education in the United States.

But these days, that phrase could easily refer to the U.S. government's attitudes towards Afghanistan. Just look at the following phrases from American officials this year.

from Tales from the Trail:

Is Afghan war one of necessity for U.S.?

Disengaging from Afghanistan is the option President Barack Obama is the least likely to adopt as he closes in on a new strategy in the eight-year war he calls one of "necessity."

AFGHANISTANBut on Thursday, at one of the countless policy conferences in Washington to discuss the president's choices, some experts suggested withdrawal was the best route -- and they said it would not necessarily impact efforts to fight al Qaeda.

from Tales from the Trail:

Protest resignation over Afghan plans puts Obama team on edge

On Monday, the State Department sent out its no. 2 official to tout how it was managing to get U.S. civilians out into the field in Afghanistan, with nearly 1,000 expected to be in place by year-end.

A day later, it was in damage control mode after the resignation of one of its star employees was plastered on the front page of The Washington Post and on the Internet.

To send or not to send…

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Here’s a transcript of an interview with Senator John Kerry on US policy in Afghanistan from the PBS news show The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.  Margaret Warner conducted the interview on October 26 with the influential Democrat after he had delivered a speech to the Council of Foreign Relations in Washington, D.C.

Some pundits have suggested that Kerry, who chairs the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, is ‘running cover’ for President Barack Obama in case the President decides not to meet General Stanley McChrystal’s demand to send more troops to Afghanistan.  

from Tales from the Trail:

White House hits back at Cheney “dithering” comment

AFGHANISTAN-CHENEY/The White House is firing back at former Vice President Dick Cheney who accused President Barack Obama of "dithering" and being "afraid to make a decision" on whether to send more U.S. troops to Afghanistan.

"I think it's a curious comment," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters at his midday briefing.

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