Connect to share and comment

Obama's new intiative in Afghanistan

President Obama's new strategic initiative in Afghanistan and Pakistan marks a pivotal and fateful turning point in a region that has been a graveyard for empires since Alexander the Great. 

History matters here.

What Obama is expected to announce in the morning is a counterinsurgency campaign parts of which are torn from the pages of America's failure in Vietnam.

To understand that history and the lessons it holds for the future in Afghanistan, GlobalPost is running a two-part series from our correspondent in Vietnam.

Matt Steinglass has traveled in Ho Chi Minh City and the provinces where the U.S. military attempted to execute the so-called "strategic hamlet" program. There are elements of that "clear and hold" strategy of trying to separate villagers from the Viet Cong which the U.S. is expected to emulate in Afghanistan as it seeks to isolate the Taliban. 

Steinglass has tracked down a former officer of the North Vietnamese Army who is now one of Vietnam's most respected military historians. The former commander warns that the U.S. is about to make the same mistakes in Afghanistan that it made in Vietnam.

Into the late evening, the Obama administration's top foreign policy makers and members of he Joint Chiefs of Staff were still working on the document and still briefing congress on the plan which will be released in the morning.

The plan will call for an additional several thousand military advisers and trainers above and beyond the "surge" of 17,000 U.S. troops that will be added to the U.S. and NATO forces on the ground already, according to one congressional staffer.

http://www.globalpost.com/notebook/worldview/090326/obamas-new-intiative-afghanistan