Officials Caution Obama Still Hasn’t Defined His Objectives in Afghanistan

Administration Rules Out Setting a Deadline, Still Pretty Vague on What Exactly They're Doing

According to several top officials both past and present, the Obama Administration is going out of its way to define any clear-cut objectives for the war in Afghanistan, even as President Obama seems poised to approve a dramatic new escalation of the eight year old conflict.

One senior White House official noted that though President Obama was trying to avoid making decisions that would bind the country forever, it was increasingly clear to him that “momentum is a terrible way to make decisions.”

Or in this case, lack of momentum. From rising death tolls to growing Taliban strength, even the disastrous election last month where the level of fraud was so severe that it is starting to make Iran look like a model of open governance by comparison, everything that could go wrong has.

But as General Stanley McChrystal advocates a “new strategy” for the conflict and Admiral Michael Mullen says the military is essentially “starting over” in the nation, the question “starting over to do what” remains conspicuously unanswered.

Whatever it is, it’s not stopping any time soon. Top Obama adviser David Axelrod insists that the administration will absolutely not give in to pressure from Congress to set some sort of deadline for troop withdrawal. Axelrod said Afghanistan is “a problem that still exists,” and cited 9/11 as a reason to continue the war. What he didn’t give was any indication that the administration thinks it is accomplishing anything with the war.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.