This news might surprise you:
The Afghan government believes that al Qaeda is not present in Afghanistan in any significant numbers. Foreign military commanders, often advised by U.S. Army Special Forces operators who have been working in the country since late 2001, tend to agree. Al Qaeda’s problem in Afghanistan is that they are greatly disliked.
If there’s hardly any al Qaeda in Afghanistan, then isn’t sending thousands more soldiers there a “distraction” from more important struggles in the heart of the middle east?
The situation in Pakistan is quite different, of course — but that’s what intel, tiny groups of Special Forces, and some very smart bombs are for. And putting 17,000+ more troops in Afghanistan, as I’ve noted before, let’s Russian put our logistical danglies in a vice. So we’ve got an ill-defined mission, a growing presence, a potentially worsening support situation, and an emboldened rival.
On the other hand, just because I’m not sure President Obama is making the right call, doesn’t mean I know what the right call is. Mostly, just hope this is one decision that really isn’t above his pay grade.