Obama: Resources Will Follow Strategy, Not Vice Versa

Created: September 21, 2009 08:43 | Last updated: July 31, 2020 00:00

Here’s the first important thing President Obama said Sunday on “Meet The Press“:

I’m not interested in just being in Afghanistan for the sake of being in Afghanistan or saving face or, in some way– you know, sending a message that America– is here for– for the duration.  I think it’s important that we match strategy to resources.

What I’m not also gonna do, though, is put the resource question before the strategy question.  Until I’m satisfied that we’ve got the right strategy I’m not gonna be sending some young man or woman over there-beyond what we already

This matches what I heard in the course of reporting this piece. But it’s not quite true, as massive intelligence resources are on their way to Afghanistan, but for some reason no one quite counts intelligence resources on the same level as U.S. troops.

Anyway. This is the second important thing President Obama said on “Meet The Press”:

The question that I’m asking right now is to our military, to General McChrystal, to General Petraeus, to all our national security apparatus, is– whether it’s troops who are already there, or any troop request in the future, how does this advance America’s national security interests? How does it make sure that al Qaeda and its extremist allies cannot attack the United States homeland, our allies, our troops who are based in Europe?

In Congress, among elites, and among the public at large, there are high anxieties about the counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan being orthogonal to the counterterrorism goal. If Obama’s interview signals anything, it signals that he’s heard that anxiety. Reversing that mission creep is a different challenge.