As I say in my annotation to the speech, the timetable decision was a genuinely tough call. It exemplifies the multiple audience problem. I just don’t think the Afghan government is likely to be able to respond the way we hope they will; it is institutionally very weak, through neither exactly our fault or their fault. I think the enemy is probably more encouraged after the speech than before, but not dramatically so. But I also think the Pakistani elite is now less likely to take risks to do wjnat we want them to, and that may be more consequential in the longer run.
Limited nation building? I’ve often recommended your book on state-building, but I wonder if states can exist and flourish in today’s world without a nationalism behind them. It will require more than an Afghan army to make the Afghan state permanent. It will require an Afghan nation.
In the meantime I worry that we may have lost sight of the reason we went in in the first place. Capturing or killing Usama bin Ladin and eliminating al-Qa’ida should be more important than building an Afghan nation state.
“A goal without a deadline is a dream.” I think Obama’s timeline reflects tough executive decision-making. For all those who want immediate results, Obama has been a disappointment. As a business owner who runs things with an eye to the long-term, I am impressed by his pace, toughness and vision.
I wonder if setting a deadline and declaring it out to the world will not strengthen the enemies
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