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Obama's Rumsfeld Strategy for Afghanistan

5:26 PM, Jul 15, 2009 • By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
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Gary Schmitt sees Obama on the verge of repeating some of the worst mistakes of the last administration:

In an AP wire report from late yesterday, President Obama signaled that his long-term plan for Afghanistan is in fact a short-term hope to get out as quickly as possible. Having committed 20,000-plus more troops to the fight there this past spring, the president is now saying that he wants our involvement there to "transition to a different phase" after Afghanistan's upcoming elections, with the emphasis being placed on Afghan troops, police, and government stepping up to take the predominant role in the fight against the Taliban. Good luck.

The reality is that none of the Afghan parts of that puzzle will be anywhere close to ready next year or, for that matter, over the next two or three years....The irony is that it appears-from both Obama's remarks yesterday and NSC Advisor Gen. Jim Jones' statement of a few days back that a request for more troops from the U.S. commanders in Afghanistan would be likely cause "a Whiskey Tango Foxtrot moment" in the Oval Office-that the Obama White House may well be repeating the very same mistake made by the Bush-Rumsfeld team in Iraq from 2003 to 2006: get in, get out and hand over the keys as quickly as one can to the newly established government. The result was a more costly and bloody fight in Iraq. As with Iraqis, Afghans will need to learn how to walk before we ask them to run a marathon. Any other strategy is bound to result in failure.