Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

Three Things We Need From Obama on Afghanistan

It seems to be a given that President Obama will send about 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan. So to me the three big questions are: What are we going to do about the corruption and abuses of the Afghan government, arguably a more troublesome foe than the Taliban? How does what we are doing relate ...

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576159_091130_ricks412.jpg

It seems to be a given that President Obama will send about 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan. So to me the three big questions are:

What are we going to do about the corruption and abuses of the Afghan government, arguably a more troublesome foe than the Taliban? How does what we are doing relate to the security problems in Pakistan, to me a far bigger worry than anything happening in Afghanistan? Perhaps most importantly, is his heart in it, and can he bring along a good portion of the American people, especially part of his base? Or is he gonna say we're giving it 12 months and then we're outta here?

It seems to be a given that President Obama will send about 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan. So to me the three big questions are:

  • What are we going to do about the corruption and abuses of the Afghan government, arguably a more troublesome foe than the Taliban?
  • How does what we are doing relate to the security problems in Pakistan, to me a far bigger worry than anything happening in Afghanistan?
  • Perhaps most importantly, is his heart in it, and can he bring along a good portion of the American people, especially part of his base? Or is he gonna say we’re giving it 12 months and then we’re outta here?

Tip from a friend: If he uses the phrase “exit strategy,” or dwells on the subject, then you’ll know you’re probably looking at a one-term president. In other words, file under “Jimmy Carter,” not “Abe Lincoln.”

Interesting note from a reader: “The guy I would like to hear from on this is Petraeus. I would love to hear him look Congress and the American people in the eye and say, ‘I think this can work.’  I haven’t heard much from him lately.” Where have you gone, Dave Petraeus? A nation turns it worried eyes to you.

I discussed this on NPR on Saturday, but you don’t need to listen because you just read what I had to say.

Flickr/napalmnews

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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