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More on Gates the Swing Voter

The official readout from yesterday’s White House meeting on Afghanistan and Pakistan strategy was predictably uninformative. (“When it come to decisions as important as keeping this country safe and putting our troops into harm’s way, the President has made it clear that he will rigorously assess our progress,” etc.) But remember how I called Defense Secretary Robert Gates the key swing vote on Afghanistan, and how he’s achieved that position by remaining a persuadable skeptic on an Afghanistan escalation? Yochi Dreazen at The Wall Street Journal has more:

In an interview Wednesday, a senior defense official said that Defense Secretary Robert Gates now worries that counterinsurgency might no longer be a viable approach for countering the Taliban violence roiling once-stable parts of north and west Afghanistan.

I’m not sure I buy that Gates is actually backing off counterinsurgency, but I certainly buy that he’s setting a high-but-not-unclearable bar for some of the COIN crowd’s favored prescriptions; and definitely that he reiterated longstanding skepticism that a warheads-on-foreheads counterterrorism strategy will work.

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