Obama Right to Stop Petraeus' 'Moby Dick' War

He finally rejects misguided 'bigger is better' Afghan strategy: Steve Clemons
By Sarah Whitmire,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 2, 2011 2:00 PM CDT
A television monitor displays President Obama as he speaks during a prime-time address on Afghanistan on June 22.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – President Obama's decision to bring home 30,000 troops by the end of next year isn't getting much praise, writes Steve Clemons at the Atlantic. Critics think it's either too much too fast or too little too slow. But Obama and Joe Biden "have it just right—and have achieved something very important in the political battle over America's Afghanistan adventure," asserts Clemons. They have finally "broken the back" of the misguided doctrine that "ever larger numbers of deployed troops equal ever large security" gains.

He blames David Petraeus for keeping that counter-insurgency doctrine (COIN) in play for so long. The general advocated "that his venture be the Moby Dick of concern in America's national security portfolio—rather than a more balanced venture.” We know now that defeating the Taliban is an unreachable goal, and instead, the US will try to "shape the choices" of the group. (Clemons lays out specifics on how in the full essay.) Obama is leading us toward a "significantly reduced role," he writes, and it's one that "may very well leave Afghanistan in better shape in the long run than where the Petraeus plan was taking us."

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