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.
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.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs