For the past eight years, the US has been fighting in and supplying technical assistance to Afghanistan.
The focus of the current debate is whether to send significantly more troops - General McChrystal wants 40,000 - as the only alternative to "win" the war. President Obama, the Pentagon and the State Department, among others, are slowly developing a plan - something that has been lacking - regarding the way forward. But, before determining the size of the military presence, President Obama needs to explain the goal.
The goal used to be the destruction of al-Qaida and the capture of Osama bin Laden. Then the focus changed, particularly with the preparations for the war-of-choice of the Bush-Cheney administration to invade Iraq which had no connection whatsoever to the attacks by al-Qaidi in New York and Washington. The preparatioins for the Iraq war can be directly linked to the failures in Afghanistan which were well documented by 2005 and with which the US must deal with in expanded form now.
In subsequent posts I want to examine where we have been and where we may be going in Afghanistan and some of the assumtions that underlie many policies undertaken by the US that may well be very wrong.