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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 23rd, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

LONDON,  June 23, 2001 – by Jeffrey Laurenti of The Century Foundation.

“Moving the ship of state is a slow process,” President Obama replied two years ago to a Turkish student impatient for more dramatic changes in American foreign policy.  “States are like big tankers, they’re not like speedboats. You can’t just whip them around and go in a new direction. Instead you’ve got to slowly move it and then eventually you end up in a very different place.”

The reduction in American troop levels in Afghanistan that Obama announced last night completes just such a gradual but complete reversal in course in U.S. policy there.  Obama has overturned the highly militarized model his predecessor adopted after the ouster of the Taliban, replacing it with a strategy based on a political resolution of Afghanistan’s conflicts.

Continue reading Turning the Afghan ship around > > > takingnote.tcf.org/2011/06/turning-the-afghan-ship-around.html

But also:

Time to see the AfPak region for what it is – a Pakistan infested with fighting Islamic extremists and an Afghanistan that was destroyed in the US-Soviet Cold War. With the end of the Cold War the problems shifted to Pakistan and the US cannot afford the investments required for Nation building in Afghanistan. Who can fill the shoes of the previously self appointed Super-Power that got into the Asian arena because of the large reserves of oil and gas hidden in the Asian deserts?

WASHINGTON, June 22, 2011 — President Obama declared Wednesday that the United States had largely achieved its goals in Afghanistan, setting in motion a substantial withdrawal of American troops in an acknowledgment of the shifting threat in the region and the
fast-changing political and economic landscape in a war-weary America.

Asserting that the country that served as a base for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks no longer represented a terrorist threat to the United States, Mr. Obama declared that the “tide of war is receding.” And in a blunt recognition of domestic economic strains, he said, “America, it is time to focus on nation-building here at home.”

“It was only a few years ago that we debated how long it would take to
train the Afghan military to take the lead in securing the most violent, contested parts of the country,” he added. “Or how long it would take to build schools and courts and provide basic services. No one wants to talk about that very much any more — the time lines are longer and the costs larger than the politics here at home will bear.”

Hours after the Sept. 11 attacks, Pakistan’s leaders were given an
ultimatum by the Bush administration: Because the looming war in
Afghanistan could not be won without Pakistan’s help, Islamabad would
have to choose between continuing its alliance with the Taliban or
joining forces with the United States.

Just shy of 10 years later, President Obama’s announcement on
Wednesday night that he is beginning the long-anticipated withdrawal
from Afghanistan marks another step in the gradual reversal of that
calculus. Though the president could not say so directly, one of the
constraints on America’s retreat from a hard and bloody decade is the
new recognition that, more than ever, the United States will be relying now on Afghanistan’s help to deal with the threats emerging from Pakistan.

The administration argues that the killing of Osama bin Laden last
month at his compound deep inside Pakistan, combined with scores of
other counterterrorism strikes, have given it greater leeway to reduce
its troop numbers in Afghanistan. Yet Pakistan’s angry reaction to
that raid also makes it more urgent than ever that the United States
maintain sites outside the country to launch drone and commando raids
against the militant networks that remain in Pakistan, and to make
sure that Pakistan’s fast-growing nuclear arsenal never falls into the
wrong hands.

What the raid of the Bin Laden compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan,
,“demonstrated more vividly than ever, is that we need a base to strike
targets in Pakistan, and the geography is simple: You need to do that
from Afghanistan,” said Bruce Reidel, a retired C.I.A. officer who conducted Mr. Obama’s first review of strategy in the region.

———-

Rabbi Michael Lerner, Chair, The Network of Spiritual Progressives – www.spiritualprogressives.org – and can be reached at – RabbiLerner@tikkun.org – has a further take on this:

* Last night, President Obama announced a plan for Afghanistan that will leave nearly

* 70,000 troops on the ground at the end of his first term

* That’s still almost double the number of troops President Bush had in Afghanistan.

* While the press is portraying this plan as a large withdrawal from Afghanistan,

* the fact is that the administration is still investing billions of dollars and risking

* thousands of lives for a failed strategy. And risking the lives of so many civilians in Afghanistan and

* Pakistan. And we still don’t know when those 70,000 soldiers will come home to their families,

* because under the guise of withdrawing troops, this latest plan keeps the longest war

* in American history going indefinitely. That’s why the NSP (Network
of Spiritual Progressives)

* is teaming with Peace Action West to urge that President Obama bring all the troops home by

* September 2012, not just a symbolic fraction of the troops who are there.

—————-

and an interesting New York Times opinion piece:

What Would Nixon Do?

By GIDEON ROSE, Published June 25, 2011.

“Administration hawks, largely in the military, are uneasy; they had wanted to go slower, so as to safeguard recent gains made against the Taliban. Administration doves, largely in the White House, are disappointed; they had wanted to pull back faster, seeing the killing of Osama bin Laden as an ideal opportunity to get out.

The president split the difference, suggesting that he was charting a “centered course.” But he has actually once again evaded the fundamental choice between accepting the costs of staying and the risks of leaving.

What he needs is a strategy for getting out without turning a retreat into a rout — and he would be wise to borrow one from the last American administration to extricate itself from a thankless, seemingly endless counterinsurgency in a remote and strategically marginal region. Mr. Obama should ask himself, in short: What would Nixon do? …..”

 www.nytimes.com/2011/06/26/opinio…

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