‘Top Line’: A Strategy George Bush Would Love?

Nov 30, 2009 2:42pm

ABC News’ Rick Klein reports: Among the very many communications challenges facing President Obama when he outlines his new Afghanistan strategy: Explaining how his plans are different than something that might have been proposed by his predecessor. Michael O’Hanlon, a senior foreign policy fellow at the Brookings Institution, said on ABCNews.com’s “Top Line” today that the escalation in troop strength being ordered by Obama does look similar to something that President Bush could have ordered, if he had faced similar circumstances. “I think there’s every possibility that President Bush would have gone largely in this direction, and certainly [Defense Secretary Robert] Gates and [Gen. David] Petraeus are two of the key architects, and of course they were there under Bush as well,” O’Hanlon told us. “But I think that President Obama deserves a lot of credit, frankly, for taking some time on this, for trying to figure out ways to send a message to [Afghan President Hamid] Karzai that’s a bit nuanced about our willingness to stay with him if he doesn’t clean up his act, about the civilian surge,” O’Hanlon added. “So I give him credit for really getting into some of the more nuanced and detailed areas here. I think the overall deliberation process has been pretty impressive.” As for his challenge tomorrow night at West Point, O’Hanlon said, “the key thing is to give some sense of why this may work.” “After all, we’ve had a year that’s been dominated by adding 30,000 US troops previously, and yet the commander in the field saying that things were continuing to deteriorate, and many people now likening Afghanistan more and more to a quagmire,” he said. “The greater issue here is the overall sense of confidence the president has about how this can work in the face of Afghan government corruption and all the other problems we’ve been hearing about. I believe there is a way to make that case, but that’s going to be the more challenging part.” Watch the full discussion with Michael O’Hanlon HERE.  

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