Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Sunday, January 20th, 2019

Obama’s ‘Price Tag’ War Policy in Afghanistan

This piece of writing is on the book "Obama's war" by American journalist and author Bob Woodward. Majority of materials contained in the book involves classified minutes, discussions and points of views expressed in Obama's national security meetings during first 18 months of his administration. During this time President Obama developed his strategy for ending U.S combat involvement in Afghanistan conflict by end of 2014.

The book reveals Obama was offered option of doing a 'fully resourced, integrated civilian-military counterinsurgency' in Afghanistan by his national security team; the book reveals (on page 219) President Obama interprets it to mean doing long-term nation building in Afghanistan.

That would involve building competence of the civilian Afghan government, building up defence capabilities of the Afghan National Army to protect the country without outside help, establishing a legal economy as an alternative to narco-economy of Afghanistan so the Afghan government can start paying its bills from revenue raised from the domestic economy.

Nation building requires a credible and competent partner government that is willing to do most of the work in building up the economy, the armed forces and the institutions of government with injection of foreign expertise, capital and technology by a foreign partner.

The Karzai administration is portrayed in the book and by the American media as corrupt, incompetent and unreliable. The book reveals this disrepute of Karzai's government is part of why Obama decides to reject nation building.

Another reason in Obama's decision not to commit to nation-building is dependency of the Afghan government on international aid for ongoing survival. It has become used to living on aid money. "We have a government [in Afghanistan] with a serious [financial] dependency issue" Obama is quoted telling his national security team, the book reveals (on page 279).

Quoted in Sydney Morning Herald under title 'concerns for security forces cast doubt on government viability' last month former U.S ambassador to Afghanistan Gen. Eikenberry pointed out beyond 2014 the Afghan government can only pay $1 out of every $3 needed for maintenance costs of the ANA beyond 2014 if it commits 100 precent of its revenue from taxation to defence.

This highlights how incompetent the afghan government has been in starting up the economy to start paying its own bills from domestic revenue sources since U.S intervention in Afghanistan began a decade ago. Like other institutions of Afghan government the afghan army is surviving on aid money as well. Begging and not working has become a habit for Karzai's government.

Major reason President Obama decides against doing long term nation-building in Afghanistan is price tag of the project for the American government. He is quoted on page 251 of the book saying "…I'm not doing a long-term nation building effort. I'm not spending a trillion dollars".

This represents Obama's 'price tag' war policy in Afghanistan.

It is clear America will not do long term and costly nation-building in Afghanistan, ever.

Afghan politicians should instead of engaging in wild wishful thinking of how much more the international community could do more for them put competence of Afghan government in order so at least it will have some chances of survival on its own beyond 2014. Time is fast running out.