Whatever his problems, judging by this excellent social network analysis, President Barack Obama can’t complain he isn’t getting pertinent information on Afghanistan.
Not only has he managed to surround himself with exceptionally clever people, but many of those he apparently listens to actually have first-hand experience of the Afghan battlefields. Add to this the fact that Barnett Rubin himself advised Obama during his presidential campaign, and you start to wonder whether there is anyone in the academia he hasn’t put to use.
And yet, there’s this:
Suspected U.S. drones fired missiles into Pakistan on Friday killing at least 14 people, intelligence officials and residents said, in the first such strikes since Barack Obama became U.S. president.
And now this:
President Obama intends to adopt a tougher line toward Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, as part of a new American approach to Afghanistan that will put more emphasis on waging war than on development, senior administration officials said Tuesday.
Who exactly is advising the president?
Surely it can’t be Nate Fick and John Nagl, who just a few weeks ago wrote:
Cross-border raids into Pakistan to pursue insurgents have strained U.S. relations with Pakistan at this critical juncture in the Afghan campaign. Pakistan is, of course, inextricably connected to the Afghan insurgency. The Pashtun belt, as the border area between the two countries is known, constitutes the real battleground in this war. Counterinsurgency operations in Pakistan, therefore, are a necessary component of any strategy in Afghanistan. Without Pakistani support, however, unilateral cross-border raids will create more blowback than they are worth.
Of course, it’s quite possible that the new administration simply doesn’t have an Afghan strategy, that they’ve waded into the morass just as clueless as the rest of us. If that’s the case, how about at least calling a time out on those Predator strikes — didn’t the president just tell “the Muslim world” he would “start listening”? — and maybe cutting Karzai some slack until, like, you come up with a Plan B?