7,476. 11/25/2009

“On November 25, 2009, in a major speech at West Point, [President Barack] Obama announced his decision to enact the [troop] surge [in Afghanistan]. He said he would send 30,000 more troops but would start to bring them back in July 2011, when a transition to Afghan forces would begin. The July date, added at the last minute by White House aides, without conferring with the State Department or the Pentagon, led to consternation in the region. The plan was poorly explained by Obama; all the regional countries (Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, and India) and the Taliban understood it to mean that the United States was on the way out and that the end-game had begun. They began to flex their muscles for future influence in Afghanistan. Obama emerged from the speech as vacillating and contrarian. He was flexing American muscle, then stopping short by putting a time limit to the surge. He insisted that any pullout be conditions-based but then gave an actual pullout date. He was going on the offensive but then announcing when that offensive would end.”

 – Ahmed Rashid, Pakistan on the Brink, Pages 100-101

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