Last night the President made the case to the American people, to the world, for increasing the nation’s military footprint in Afghanistan. 30,000 fresh troops will be deployed as soon as possible. A ‘surge’, to blunt the inroads being made by al Qaeda, to weaken the tightening grip of the Taliban. It is, the President argued, in America’s interest — bringing security to Afghanistan will reduce terror and make America safer.
But the President has set a deadline. By the summer of 2011 the US will begin drawing down. Obama made clear that America’s commitment is not endless, the Afghan government, the Afghan army must take responsibility for securing Afghanistan.
All of this today is sparking debate. Writing in Politico, Richard Haass, the President of the Council of Foreign Relations takes issue with the deadline:
“There is, of course, no way of knowing that by the summer of 2011 it will be possible to dial down the U.S. troop presence and not see the situation on the ground unravel. The choices then would be to stay longer, to increase U.S. force levels, or to reduce the U.S. presence and role even though our Afghan partner is not ready to take our place.”