What impact will the deployment of 30,000 additional U.S. troops have on Afghanistan? Is military force effective on its own as a means of counterinsurgency? What about alternatives to the announced strategy, such as immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan or continuing with current troop deployments? Vanda Felbab-Brown, author of the just published book Shooting Up, answers these and other questions about President Obama’s Afghanistan strategy in a piece on the Brookings website.
Commenting on the differences between the strategies pursued by Presidents Bush and Obama, Felbab-Brown observes: “Under President Bush, the strategy remained . . . economy of force. The military effort, as well as the development effort, was never sufficiently resourced to allow for a sustainable momentum to develop on the side of the Afghan government and NATO. President Obama’s commitment of additional multifaceted resources provides an opportunity—though far from a guaranteed outcome—that such a strategic reversal will be achieved. Also, under President Obama’s strategy, there is, for the first time, a clear emphasis on the quality of governance and a sense that Afghan leaders need to be held accountable to the Afghan people and their international partners. There are no more blank checks. Finally, there is now a far stronger emphasis on the regional aspects of the Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy and the need to involve all of the important stakeholders in the region and worldwide.”