After patiently waiting for the political climate in Afghanistan to cool down enough for President Obama to decide whether or not the US will sustain a military presence in the country, it would seem as if we were one step closer to receiving a final answer. President Hamid Karzai was officially declared the victor of Afghanistan’s election when his opponent, Abdullah Abdullah chose to drop out of the scheduled run-off election yesterday.
President Obama has been delaying any major decision making until he knew which Afghan administration he would have to cooperate and negotiate with. Yet even though the battle over the ballots has been resolved, nobody can decide whether or not Karzai’s victory bodes well for US-Afghanistan relations. The run-off election was scheduled after the U.N. decided that Karzai had fraudulently won the first time around. Abdullah withdrew, because he didn’t feel like the second election would be any fairer.
President Obama did call to congratulate Karzai and suggest that this be the beginning of a new chapter between the two countries. Yet he also advised that Karzai attempt to control the corruption within his administration: “As I indicated to him, the proof is not going to be in words, it’s going to be in deeds.” After many weeks of meetings with his war council, Obama is now positioned to decide from among a range of options for a US strategy:
• A counterterrorism approach that would focus on narrower attacks against Al Qaeda leadership in Pakistan and require fewer troops.
• A counterinsurgency approach that could require more than 40,000 troops and commit the US to Afghanistan for at least several years.
• Or something in between.
Like always, President Obama has stated that he’s not going to make a quick decision, but now that the elections are over, Republicans are increasing the pressure on him and claim that he no longer has an excuse to delay action. It’s likely that the president will announce his next move within a few weeks. What do you think?
–Written by Ashley Ellis