Mark Schneider, a senior vice president of the International Crisis Group, told me that his organization saw the fall of Kunduz coming. “In Kunduz the Afghan local police have not been effective. As a result you have a tendency to see others fill in,” he said, pointing to a series of offensives from the Taliban in the province that began in the spring.
The military also saw this coming. Mark Moyar, who as a senior fellow at the Joint Special Operations University conducted a study of the Afghan local police, told me the special operations command in Afghanistan in 2013 did not want to leave Kunduz, “but they were required to draw down their forces because of the larger draw down.”
It’s important to note here that Obama has political ownership of the Afghanistan war, in a way he shirked such responsibility for the war in Iraq. Yes, his predecessor began both wars. But Obama ordered a surge of troops to Afghanistan in 2009 and initially approved an ambitious counterinsurgency strategy there. Eventually he got cold feet and fired McChrystal out of pique over some background comments attributed to his advisers in Rolling Stone.
These days senior White House officials talk about Afghanistan and Iraq as if the primary policy goal was simply to get U.S. troops out of there.
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