U.S. will likely lower its goals for Afghanistan: officials
Last Updated: Monday, January 26, 2009 | 7:59 PM ET
The Associated Press
President Barack Obama is likely to scale back U.S. ambitions for troubled Afghanistan, redefining victory in a war that his closest military and foreign affairs advisers say cannot be won on the battlefield.
Even before a planned doubling of U.S. forces occupying Afghanistan later this year, the new administration is lowering its sights — and lowering expectations. Although there is general agreement that the United States will be in Afghanistan for years to come, the new focus is on how to show even small security gains and development progress quickly.
"That's clearly the message I'm getting is, 'What are the near-term goals going to be?' " Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. military's Joint Chiefs of Staff, said when asked about Obama's agenda for Afghanistan.
Mullen and Defence Secretary Robert Gates, who has recently suggested the administration of former president George W. Bush overreached in Afghanistan, are scheduled to testify Tuesday before the U.S. Senate and House armed services committees.
Vice-President Joe Biden said the world hasn't done enough to provide economic, political and military resources to Afghanistan, and the United States and its allies lack a coherent strategy. The result is a country backsliding into Taliban control, Biden said.
He warned of higher U.S. military casualties as the Obama administration adds up to 30,000 troops to the Afghan war, where the Taliban is resurgent and where critics say the Bush administration was slow to respond.
"The bottom line here is we've inherited a real mess," Biden told CBS's program Face the Nation on Sunday. "We're about to go in and try to essentially reclaim territory that's been effectively lost."
If you were an advisor to President Obama, what would you advise the American goals in Afghanistan should be faced with the reality that victory likely cannot be won militarily?