President Obama has inherited a crisis in Afghanistan. “Large parts of the country, perhaps 70% of Afghan territory, are no-go areas for security forces and government officials. … Narcotics production has coalesced into enormous tracts of poppy in Taliban-controlled areas, heroin production has spiked, government legitimacy is collapsing, food and water are critically short, the insurgency is spreading and intensifying,” observed the blog Small Wars Journal. On Wednesday, suicide bombers and Taliban gunmen struck government buildings at three sites in Kabul, “killing at least 20 people and wounding 57.” Security forces remained on high alert Thursday, “not only in preparation for the arrival of the envoy, Richard Holbrooke, President Obama’s special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, but also because a Taliban spokesman claimed eight bombers remained at large in the city and were still ‘looking for a chance.'” On Feb. 5, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced a delay in the expected deployment of 17,000 additional troops “until after the Obama administration concludes its ongoing review of the strategy for Afghanistan.” It is imperative that this interim be used to define and focus on America’s key interests in the nearly eight-year U.S.-led intervention in that country.
From The Progress Report