On Wednesday the US president announced that he would order a gradual troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. On a superficial level there is nothing surprising about this decision. Barack Obama is simply implementing what he had promised the American people in 2009 when he agreed to honour General Stanley McChrystal’s request for more troops in Afghanistan.
A second glance at the president’s speech reveals something more interesting than the high cost of the war. In between the lines, what Mr Obama said amounts to an elimination of a key component in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, namely the counter-insurgency programme, and the elevation of a minor practice, namely drone attacks. Read more