A Test for U.S. Foreign and National Security Policy
Joyce P. Kaufman
As this chapter was being drafted, the Obama administration was debating what to do about Afghanistan. In September 2009, an unclassified version of the report drafted by General Stanley A. McChrystal, Commander, NATO International Security Assistance Force (COMISAF), was released publicly1 while the complete classified version of the report was provided to the Obama administration. This report came when the Obama administration was considering its options regarding Afghanistan, and amid growing uncertainty on the part of the European allies about the viability of the mission. In August 2009, President Obama gave a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars in which he dubbed Afghanistan a “war of necessity.”2 Even so, that war was also threatening to become the quagmire that Iraq had appeared to be, not too long ago.
Consistent with the Status of Forces Agreement signed in Baghdad in November 2008,3 U.S. combat forces were being withdrawn from Iraq, and the Iraqis were readying themselves to take over that operation with the U.S. remaining in a “support” role. No such agreement exists in the case of Afghanistan, nor is there any publicly known exit strategy at this time. In fact, the presidential election that was held in Afghanistan on August 20, 2009, which the United States and the other allies had hoped “would deliver a popular mandate for a strong, democratic government able to address the nation’s security woes,”4 has only contributed to the confusion as to the future of the