The Daily Beast reports: President Obama announced Wednesday yet another delay in his plan to wind down the war in Afghanistan, saying 8,400 troops would remain there for a list of enemies that has grown from al Qaeda to the Taliban and now to the so-called Islamic State.
But many in the Pentagon are concerned that the president’s new plan isn’t much of a strategy at all. It’s just a holding action, to hopefully keep a lid on Afghanistan until after the election.
“There is no desire to end the war in Afghanistan. There is a desire to keep it off the front pages and make it a problem for the next administration,” as one Pentagon official explained to The Daily Beast.
The U.S. had planned to keep 5,500 troops through the end of the year. At first glance, the change in number may not have seemed particularly significant; the president added only 2,400 troops to the number of forces that will be in Afghanistan by the end of his presidency. But the fact the U.S. had to slow down its withdrawal from its longest war ever was a major acknowledgement by the administration that the U.S. has yet to train local forces that can successfully stop a burgeoning Taliban and the jihadists protected by them. In other words, the cornerstone of the American effort in Afghanistan was still shaky, a decade and a half into the war. [Continue reading…]