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I haven't been keeping close tabs on the details of our mission in Afghanistan lately, but Steve Hynd mentions something today that's interesting. Back in March, Barack Obama said we would be focused primarily on counterterrorism — killing bad guys — but now that's changed. Without really announcing anything, the mission is now apparently focused on counterinsurgency and nation building:
Counter-insurgency "clear, hold and build" has entirely taken over from counter-terrorism "hunt, kill and disupt". That might be the right thing to do — although I have my doubts — but the point is that it wasn't what Obama said would happen and government policy has radically shifted in favor of an interventionist, long-war, nation-building policy straight from the military and the folks at CNAS without any official announcement or very much public debate. In fact, it's almost as if Obama himself hasn't been told.
I don't have anything much to say about this, and it might even be that Steve is drawing too strong a conclusion from a couple of hazy data points. I'm not sure. But it seemed worth sharing. Just how long is Obama planning on staying in Afghanistan, I wonder?