News

US President Has Been Considering Afghanistan Strategy for Months

Mr. Obama's focus on Afghanistan began during the 2008 presidential campaign when he visited the country for the first time

President Obama's decision on a new strategy for Afghanistan was preceded by months of statements, smaller decisions and meetings with his security cabinet
President Obama's decision on a new strategy for Afghanistan was preceded by months of statements, smaller decisions and meetings with his security cabinet
Siri NyropJohn Walker

President Obama's decision on a new strategy for Afghanistan was preceded by months of statements, smaller decisions and meetings with his security cabinet. This timeline, begins with the 2008 presidential election and ends with President Obama's last strategy session before his announcement at the United States Military Academy at West Point.

During the presidential campaign, in July 2008, then Senator Obama visited Afghanistan for the first time. He said he opposes the war in Iraq and favors returning the focus to Afghanistan. He called it the front line in the fight against terrorism.

In January 2009, Barack Obama was sworn in as president of the United States.  He mentioned Afghanistan in his inaugural address.  "We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan," he stated.

Two days later, President Obama appointed Richard Holbrooke as special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

In February, the White House released a statement, announcing a troop increase of 17,000 soldiers to stabilize what it called a a deteriorating situation in Afghanistan.   

In March, the president announced a new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

"So I want the American people to understand that we have a clear and focused goal:  to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al-Qaida in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to prevent their return to either country in the future. That's the goal that must be achieved," Mr. Obama said. "That is a cause that could not be more just.  And to the terrorists who oppose us, my message is the same:  We will defeat you."

In May, President Obama hosted Pakistani President Asif Zardari and Afghan President Hamid Karzai at the White House.  The meeting coincided with public outrage in Afghanistan over a U.S. airstrike in Farah province that caused many civilian casualties.  

Days later, the Pentagon announced it was replacing General David McKiernan, the commander of U.S. and Nato forces in Afghanistan.  Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said "fresh eyes" and a "new approach" were needed to deal with the worsening situation in Afghanistan.  

In June, General Stanley McChrystal took over as top U.S. and Nato commander in Afghanistan. He ordered a review of the military mission.  He said the war will not be measured by the number of insurgents killed, but by the number of civilians protected from violence.

In August, facing the highest number of monthly U.S. casualties in Afghanistan since 2001, President Obama spoke to America's largest veterans group.  He described the war in Afghanistan as crucial to U.S. national security.

"The insurgency in Afghanistan didn't just happen overnight, and we won't defeat it overnight. This will not be quick, nor easy. But we must never forget: This is not a war of choice," Mr. Obama said. "This is a war of necessity."  

On August 20, Afghans went to the polls to elect a new president.  Later, reports of widespread fraud raised questions about U.S. support for President Hamid Karzai.

In September, U.S. public opinion polls showed declining support for the war effort in Afghanistan.

U.S. media reported that General McChrystal -- in a confidential memo -- had warned the war will likely end in failure without additional U.S. troops.  Some reports said the general was requesting up to 40,000 more troops.

With the policy review ongoing, media reports in October said President Obama was considering alternatives to just engaging the Taliban -- such as counter insurgency strategies to protect densely populated Afghan areas or concentrating on killing Al-Qaida leaders in Pakistan.

As the review continued, President Karzai reluctantly agreed to a run-off election. Investigators had ruled he received less than the minimum 50 percent required for victory.

But his chief rival, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah withdrew, stating that a transparent election was not possible.

In November, President Karzai was declared the winner of Afghanistan's presidential election.     

President Obama called on Mr. Karzai to rid his administration of corruption. "I did emphasize to President Karzai that the American people and the international community as a whole want to continue to partner with him and his government in achieving prosperity and security in Afghanistan, but I emphasize that this has to be a point in time in which we begin to write a new chapter," Mr. Obama said.

In the final days of November, President Obama held his last session on Afghanistan strategy in the White House Situation Room. The president said he would announce his decision on December 1st. 

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponentsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
July 28, 2015 9:53 PM
A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video Special Olympics Athletes Meet International Friends

The Special Olympics are underway in Los Angeles, California, with athletes from 165 countries participating in an event that gives people with intellectual disabilities the chance to take part in an international competition. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that for athletes and their families, it's also an opportunity to make new friends in an international setting.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs