Obama UN Speech Shows Wavering on Afghanistan

Lisa Curtis /

President Obama’s remarks on Afghanistan in today’s speech at the United Nations General Assembly reveal that he is beginning to second-guess U.S. strategy in the region. While he stated clearly that his administration would not allow al-Qaeda to find sanctuary in Afghanistan or “any other nation” (i.e. Pakistan), he did not so much as mention the Taliban insurgency that is threatening to engulf Afghanistan and the necessity of preventing such an outcome. His backtracking on Afghanistan also is evident in statements he made on this past Sunday’s morning talk shows in which he openly questioned whether the U.S. is pursuing the right strategy in Afghanistan and whether fighting the Taliban insurgency is necessary to stopping al-Qaeda.

For most Afghan watchers, this question has already been settled, and that’s why the Washington Post in its lead editorial yesterday gently reminded President Obama that he seems to have forgotten his own arguments for pursuing a counterinsurgency campaign in Afghanistan. Obama rightly said on March 27 “…if the Afghan government falls to the Taliban – or allows al Qaeda to go unchallenged – that country will again be a base for terrorists who want to kill as many of our people as they possibly can.” So why is he fumbling now? (more…)