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Tuesday 22 Aug 2017 | 17:56 | SYDNEY
Tuesday 22 Aug 2017 | 17:56 | SYDNEY

The White House-Pentagon showdown

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6 September 2010 11:46

A footnote to the post I wrote last week arguing that President Obama sees the economy as his main challenge, and is trying slowly to extricate the US from its costly war in Afghanistan. The US military has a different view, and TIME's Joe Klein argues that a clash is looming:

Here's what to watch for now: The Administration wants to keep Afghanistan on the back burner for the next two months, until after the election. The military is playing a different hand. It will try, via a surreptitious media strategy, to get the President to delay any policy review, to give a new vote of confidence to a failing and deeply flawed, in my view, war strategy. Bob Woodward's new book, an account of the Administration's Afghanistan decision-making process, could well strengthen the military's hand; some administration officials fear that the book will characterize the process as messy and chaotic. (Woodward wrote a similar book about Bill Clinton's messy, chaotic budget-making process in 1993, a process that emerged, over time, as a major economic and political triumph). In short, there will be an effort to portray the President as an indecisive, non-military wimp. There will be an effort to get him to back off his July 2011 date for the beginning of the transition to Afghan "control." There may even be a request for more troops. All this will happen in the midst of a political campaign that may well prove devastating for Democrats. This is a test of strength that Obama can't afford to lose. A major review of Afghan strategy is necessary--in fact, it's needed right now. A major change in strategy, given the outrageous incompetence and corruption of the Karzai government. It is time to downgrade the importance of Afghanistan, and focus on trying to meliorate  the real problem in the region--the enduring emnity between Pakistan and India.

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