Obama’s Afghanistan Problem


Secretary of Defense Bob Gates was scheduled to brief President Barack Obama on Afghanistan on Monday afternoon. The pair, according to some media reports, were expected to review Pentagon plans for sending more than 15,000 US troops to Afghanistan. But at Monday’s daily press briefing, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said nothing so definitive was on the agenda and that the Obama administration’s review of its Afghanistan policy was still under way.

Still, one question is whether Obama’s basic approach to Afghanistan—which appears to involve beefing up the troops in the NATO-led force there–has a fatal flaw. Bloomberg reports:

President Barack Obama has made clear he is counting on America’s NATO allies for greater military contributions in Afghanistan. He may be in for a disappointment.

Most European leaders have either ruled out sending more troops to buttress the fight against a resurgent Taliban or talked about increases that number only in the hundreds.

Who’s to blame for this? George W. Bush, of course;

In encountering such reluctance, the U.S. is paying a price for its past errors, says Anthony Cordesman, a military analyst at Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies.

But whoever’s at fault, it’s Obama holding the bag. Can he use his charm and squeeze more troops out of the allies? Germany and France recently have said, forget about it. And no other nation has offered any significant amount of soldiers. His options may be limited—thanks to Bush.

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  • David Corn

    David Corn is Mother Jones' Washington bureau chief and an on-air analyst for MSNBC. He is the co-author (with Michael Isikoff) of Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump. He is the author of three New York Times bestsellers, Showdown, Hubris (with Isikoff), and The Lies of George W. Bush, as well as the e-book, 47 Percent: Uncovering the Romney Video that Rocked the 2012 Election. For more of his stories, click here. He's also on Twitter and Facebook.