ACCUMULATING PERIPHERALS


A constituency of one? by mattsteinglass

Matthew Yglesias on why the views of Leah Farrell, the Australian anti-terrorism expert formerly of the Australian National Police who thinks more US intervention in Afghanistan is playing al-Qaeda’s game, have no constituency:

Meanwhile, Spencer Ackerman says that Leah Farrell, former al-Qaeda specialist for the Australian National Police, has a blog that’s “attracting ever-more attention in U.S. defense circles.” That said, I think we can predict here and now that she’s going to stop attracting attention in U.S. defense circles since she thinks we should withdraw from Afghanistan and that al-Qaeda attacks on U.S. forces are a deliberate ploy “forcing a surge in American troop numbers” and creating a situation in which “Mullah Omar’s legitimacy would be jeopardised were he to publicly disassociate from al-Qa’ida and guarantee he would not again provide it sanctuary.”

She’ll stop attracting attention because, as Spencer writes in that very same post, there’s absolutely no constituency for withdrawal of American forces inside the Obama administration. Instead, the debate among civilians runs from “we should stick with the increase in troop levels that Obama has already executed” to “we should engage in large additional increases in troop levels.” And within the uniformed military it seems that everyone wants large additional increases.

Probably true. But here’s NPR’s story yesterday, after the big Obama-war council meeting:

After the 2 1/2 hour meeting Wednesday, administration officials said the president does not plan to accept any of the options in their current form. The officials said the president is pushing to clarify how and when U.S. troops would hand over responsibility to Afghan security forces — and raising questions about the credibility of the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Obama wants to make clear that the U.S. commitment in Afghanistan is not open-ended, one source added.

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