March 13, 2009


And here I was, telling everyone that we would not see any big change in our Afghanistan policy for another 12 months -- the logic being that the immediate situation was so very bad that we had no choice but to make an all-out effort to protect as much of the population as possible as quickly as possible. Big changes in policy, I guessed, would arrive around Christmas with plenty of time to prepare our allies for any shift.

Then I read this report, hot off the pixels from Reuters:

Gen. David Petraeus, head of U.S. Central Command, and Richard Holbrooke, the U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, met privately on Thursday with more than a dozen senators. Although the session was confidential, it was part of the administration's effort to recruit support for a trimmed-down U.S. mission in the war begun by former President George W. Bush in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The White House review was expected to frame U.S. objectives in two major categories: strategic regional goals for stability in impoverished Afghanistan and nuclear-armed Pakistan and smaller-scale warfighting goals for the growing U.S. military commitment in Afghanistan.

Broadly speaking, the Obama administration was expected to endorse a doctrine of counterinsurgency that has military and civilian components and that scales back U.S. expectations for Afghan democracy and self-sufficiency. A main theme is the premise that the military alone cannot win the war, officials said.