The Afghanistan Debate Meets The Very Serious People

I’m about to leave for Netroots Nation, but I’ve just published a kind of omnibus Washington Independent piece about the current state of the Afghanistan debate after coming back from an event Amb. Holbrooke put on this morning to announce his team. Even if you didn’t follow my tweeting, you still might have noticed this turning into a something of a WTF moment:

Stressing the interagency coordination represented by the ten officials flanking Holbrooke on the panel at Washington’s St. Regis Hotel, Holbrooke said that while the United States had to be “clear about what our national interests are,” ultimately, success would require taking a “Supreme Court test” — “We’ll know it when we see it.”

A lot more than that is contained in my new piece, which features quotes from such people as John Kerry, Andrew Exum, and Michael Cohen, as well as Deep Insidery observations from anonymous administration officials. Like for instance:

[A] Defense Department official said that there was practically no talk within the administration about shifting away from a counterinsurgency strategy. “We tried for seven and a half years to have an almost exclusively counterterrorism strategy and that pretty manifestly was not working,” the official said. “It was not achieving either counterterrorism results nor doing a heck of a lot for Afghan stability or security.” Political appointees, career civil servants and serving military officers all demonstrated “very wide buy-in” for counterinsurgency in Afghanistan, the official said.

The official added that the administration was contemplating renewed efforts to convince the country and the Congress about the merits of its Afghanistan strategy. “There’s a clear sense that senior leaders need get out there much much more, be painstaking, take all the criticisms and explain why we need to do what we think we need to do,” the official said.

Enjoy. Let’s debate this tomorrow at 9 a.m. in Pittsburgh at my panel, or over many many drinks this weekend. I wonder if anyone will blog this piece since I’m publishing it during a time when pretty much the entire progressive blogosphere is in transit.

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Spencer Ackerman

Spencer Ackerman