President Obama today announced his new strategy for dealing with Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Al Quaida.
As someone who has not been a big fan of the administration to date, I must say I didn't hear anything, policy-wise, that I didn't like.
The President is continuing to increase troop levels, with an emphasis on training. The goal is to build up and train the Afghan army and police until they are ready to handle their own security. There will also be funds provided by the U.S. for things like schools and infrastructure for Afghanistan. I do believe in the strategy of "give them something to lose." when it's done correctly. Mr. Obama also stated that the U.S, Afghanistan and Pakistan will engage in continuing talks and strategy sessions regarding security as well as economics and long term stability. He emphasized the need for civilian efforts as well, saying we need an "army" of agriculture specialists and engineers to not only erradicate the poppy production that fuels terrorist funding, but to find viable, alternative cash crops. This is something I have suggested in my own blogs in the past.
He seemed to have a real grasp on the danger posed by instability in the region and of the clear and present danger posed by Al Quaida and its allies. That was refreshing to hear.
The one thing that was a bit annoying about the presentation was the multiple referrals to Afghanistan being "denied the resources necessary due to the war in Iraq." Mr. Obama has won the election. He's the President. It's okay to acknowledge that we actually accomplished something good in Iraq and it wasn't a complete waste. Oh well, that's just politics. History wont pay much heed to snide remarks in the long run, just results.
I do like the strategy that was laid out today. Let's hope the execution is as good as the plan.