Listening to Obama’s Afghanistan speech

He’ll be speaking this evening to a wary and skeptical national audience.   I’ll be interested to hear in how Obama defines his goals, and tries to assured Americans that the troop build-up is not open-ended – while at the same time assuring Afghans and Pakistanis that the US will stay to get the job done. I’d also like to hear more about this reported new promised “partnership” with Pakistan — apparently it is to include everything from military aid to major infrastructure projects on water and energy. $$??

Anthony Cordesman at CSIS has a granular checklist of things to listen for in the Obama speech.  I thought the section on analyzing intelligence failures was interesting.

Also, my friend Spencer Ackerman has some interesting comparisons of the planned Afghan surge and Bush’s Jan. 2007 surge in Iraq – for starters, Obama’s is bigger.

And here is what the White House put out so far on Obama’s pre-speech chat with Karzai:


Office of the Press Secretary


For Immediate Release                                                                                                 December 1, 2009

Readout of President Obama’s Video Teleconference with President Karzai

President Obama spoke with President Karzai on the evening of November 30 via video teleconference for one hour about the way ahead in Afghanistan.  The two leaders reaffirmed their commitment to work closely together to ensure stability in Afghanistan and to prevent the country from becoming a safe haven for terrorists.  They also discussed a range of related issues, including security, governance, corruption, economic development, and regional relations.

President Obama underscored the need for more rapid development of the Afghan National Security Forces so that Afghans themselves can assume greater responsibility over the security of their country.  The President also emphasized that U.S. and international efforts in Afghanistan are not open ended and must be evaluated toward measurable and achievable goals within the next 18 to 24 months.  Both Presidents agreed to redouble their efforts to improve the delivery of services to the Afghan people, particularly at the local level, and to reinvigorate economic development and investment, especially in the areas of agriculture, mining, water management, and energy.

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