ABSTRACT

This chapter is an explanation of how and why the Obama administration discursively (re)constructed the major significance of fighting transnational terrorism, why US national security priorities and resources shifted back to Afghanistan and how this policy developed. Obama’s narrative of preventing a ‘safe haven’ for Al-Qaeda and affiliated groups was pivotal to his administration’s Afghan policy. In conjunction, the incoming president argued that the perceived threat originated in the Pashtun heartland. Thus, Washington reoriented its counterterrorism policy towards the Afghanistan-Pakistan tribal areas. The Obama administration put an emphasis on a civil-military nexus - especially a counter-insurgency approach - in the initial stages of its tenure in order to reverse Taliban gains and to stabilise the country. Correspondingly, this chapter examines how and why certain decisions were made amongst key actors to understand the altering feature of US-Afghan relations up to the end of 2010. It also argues that the Obama administration agreed with its predecessor’s underlying assumption about the meaning of 9/11 and how this subsequently had an impact on its Afghan policy.