The White House has set out 46 metrics for success
in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which Foreign Policy has acquired. Now
that we know exactly how the Obama administration perceives victory in
the countries and how it is setting out to achieve it, what does that
mean for the Afghan war and for US national security?
- Good Metrics, Better Follow-Through Fred Kagan praised Obama's
metrics as "absolutely right" and said they "indicate a continued
commitment to a serious and properly-resourced counter-insurgency
campaign in Afghanistan." But what really matters, Kagan said, is Obama
sticking to those metrics. "The 'metrics' themselves are less important
than the fact that the
Administration is still pursuing these objectives, despite pressures to
abandon them or to define success down," he wrote.
No Data-Based Measures Foreign Policy's Katherine Tiedemann
decried the lack of objective, number-based metrics that can be clearly
evaluated. "The omission of these kind of solid, measurable tick marks
means that the Obama administration will probably be able to claim that
making 'progress' in the war effort, no matter what happens on the
positive or negative," she wrote. "Conspicuously absent from the
list, in line with Gen. Stanley McChrystal's population-centric
campaign, are any body counts -- American, NATO, coalition, and insurgent
- Seeking Insurgents Before Terrorists Spencer Ackerman described
Pakistan-related metrics "way counterinsurgency heavy" as opposed to
counterterrorism, though there are some "counterterrorism-relevant"
metrics. "The bigger concern is that the measurement doesn’t include
for reaching a judgment, though the document refers to a 'classified
annex,' so perhaps that has more detail," he wrote.
- Emphasis on Afghan Governance Spencer Ackerman also noted an
emphasis on "bolstering Afghan security capacity ahead of increasing
troop levels again." He compared the list favorably to the Iraq metrics
written in 2007, "which included such granular measurements as
and sectarian-caused deaths and so forth. That's what happens when
Congress lets the administration write its own benchmarks instead of
writing them for it."
- Vietnam 2.0? Kevin Drum called
the list "implicitly utopian" and a "hundred-year project," not things
the US has a great track record with. "If you wanted to resurrect the
ghost of Robert McNamara and convince
everyone that Afghanistan is Vietnam 2.0, you could hardly do a better
job than this list," he wrote. "I don't doubt for a second that
something exactly like it in 1965 when he was meeting with LBJ and the
Joint Chiefs in the Oval Office."
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