While much of the focus on Tuesday’s unveiling of President Obama’s revamped Afghanistan strategy will be on the number of U.S. troops he’s expected to send, that decision is really a sideshow to the critical battle now under way on the ground. Far more important to prospects of victory in Afghanistan is jump-starting a moribund effort to woo nonideological Taliban fighters to switch sides in exchange for paying jobs. Pentagon officials are hoping to repeat the success of similar tactics in Iraq.
U.S. military leaders have argued for years that the war against the Taliban won’t be won on the battlefield but in changing the conditions that prompt young men to fight in its ranks. That makes U.S. reinforcements merely part and not the most important part of the retooled U.S. strategy Obama will announce Tuesday at the U.S. Military Academy.