President Obama convened more meetings of key national security advisers Sunday at the White House, to prepare for the rollout of his new strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan. One matter accomplished in the meeting, a source said, was an agreement on some language to use in discussing the new way forward.
Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes gave the president a first draft of the speech Sunday, and the president is in the process of his red pen treatment, heavily re-writing the speech as is his wont.
Sources say the speech will touch on these major points:
1) The president said last week it is his intention to “finish the job” in Afghanistan; he will have to explain to a very war weary public just what that job is and why it matters to them. The focus of the new strategy, sources say, will be going after al Qaeda and affiliated extremists, with less of an emphasis on nation-building.
2) President Obama will also acknowledge to the American people that the US does not have unlimited resources in terms of manpower and money to do this job; part of the president’s challenge is explaining that while he’s sending more than 30,000 new US troops to Afghanistan — bringing the total to around 100,000 — he is just as keenly focused on bringing them home. The idea is to convey that this mission is to complete the work; US troops will not be in Afghanistan in this number in eight years, he will say.
3) There is obviously an international audience for this speech as well, including our NATO allies, whom the president is trying to rally to contribute 5-10,000 more troops. So part of this speech will be that extremists in the Af-Pak region are not one country’s problem, nor is it an issue impacting just that one region of the world. This must be an international effort, the president will say.
4) And finally the president will convey to the Afghan government that it needs to get its act together and improve governance and combat corruption, a push he will make by saying the US will insist on very strict benchmarks.
Very quickly after the speech US troops will be sent out for deployment in the South and East of Afghanistan, sources tell ABC News, especially Kandahar and Helmand Province.
Watch our GMA report here: