In an opening statement at a hearing this afternoon on Afghanistan strategy -- previewed ably by Spencer Ackerman -- Senator John Kerry doesn't seem too comfortable at all with the administration's current plan. At one point he left his prepared remarks behind to recall when he was a young naval officer heading to Vietnam as President Lyndon Johnson and General William Westmoreland were constantly calling for more troops to achieve their adjustments without questioning crucial strategic assumptions like the "domino theory." Kerry concluded that we have to ask those fundamental questions now, saying...
I am concerned because at the very moment when our troops and our allies troops are sacrificing more and more, our plan, our path, and our progress seem to be growing less and less clear. ... no amount of money, no rise in troop levels, and no clever metrics will matter if the mission is ill conceived.
He seems to be thinking about a strategy that has a smaller footprint on the ground, noting that he doesn't believe the U.S. should be in Afghanistan to create a central government or a carbon-copy of U.S. democracy. Further,
... In a week when U.S. commandos killed a top al-Qaeda leader in Somalia without a major troop presence, we should be asking ourselves how much counterinsurgency and nation-building are required to meet a more limited set of goals.
-- Tim Fernholz