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Obama's resolve -- and reluctance

President Obama has made a necessary, mature national security decision on Afghanistan – a state of affairs that he seems embarrassed about.

Philosophically, Obama’s West Point speech reaffirmed key elements of the Bush doctrine. The president rooted his decision on an Afghan surge firmly in the events of Sept. 11, 2001. He talked of the need to preempt future dangers to America before they fully emerge, through military and other means. “New attacks are being plotted as I speak,” he warned. “Al-Qaeda and other extremists seek nuclear weapons, and we have every reason to believe that they would use them.”

These arguments could have been made by George W. Bush – and were. When Bush employed them, some dismissed such talk as alarmist. But similar arguments will be made by every president, Democrat or Republican, for the next 50 years. They are a bipartisan consensus, rooted in dangers no president can responsibly deny.

Militarily, Obama has made a serious national commitment. When troop increases are fully phased in, Obama will have more than doubled the number of American troops in Afghanistan. He has pledged reinforcements at the “fastest pace possible.” His leadership team – Robert Gates, David Petraeus, Stanley McChrystal – is exemplary, and fresh from success in the Iraq surge. Obama has put in place the conditions for success in Afghanistan.

Critics have expressed concerns about the July 2011 withdrawal deadline highlighted in the speech. I would have preferred a more unconditional commitment to success, rather than an artificial timeline. But Obama’s target is not really much of a deadline. America will “begin” to transfer our forces out of Afghanistan in July of 2011. Also: “We will execute this transition responsibly, taking into account conditions on the ground.” Such language is always the subject of massive litigation in the speechwriting process. This formulation allows for maximum flexibility in implementing, or delaying, a withdrawal. American commanders, who need such flexibility, must view this compromise language as a victory.

And I was impressed by Obama’s rejection of the Vietnam analogy. The difference could not have been expressed more clearly. “Unlike Vietnam, the American people were viciously attacked from Afghanistan, and remain a target for those same extremists who are plotting along its border.” The Vietcong wasn’t targeting New York and Washington.

Rhetorically, however, Obama’s speech was confused. After a sober, coherent beginning, the speech became defensive and overly self-referential. Large portions of his remarks concerned his own personal views and struggles, designed to prove he did not take the decision “lightly.” But there was almost no explanation of how a counterinsurgency effort actually proceeds and succeeds – how population security leads to strengthened and cooperative local leadership, which increases the flow of actionable intelligence. Obama talked more about his internal deliberations than the details of his strategy. In this sense, he wasted an opportunity.

There is, I think, an explanation. Obama could not bring himself to directly praise the Iraq surge, which he strongly opposed as a senator. But this, of course, is the immediate precedent for his actions in Afghanistan. Even at this late date, Obama has trouble acknowledging the success of the surge, referring instead (and oddly) to “hard-earned milestones in Iraq.” How exactly do you earn milestones? Can’t he just admit the surge worked? Obama has, after all, put the commanders of the Iraq surge in charge in Afghanistan. He is pursuing a buildup with many similarities (though the situations, of course, are different in many ways). His case on Tuesday night would have been strengthening by detailing how and why the counterinsurgency strategy worked in Iraq. His pride would not allow it.

Late in the speech, Obama took every opportunity to express his reluctance. It is the only speech by a wartime leader I can remember that talks of fighting a war “at a reasonable cost.” It was Winston Churchill who said, “We shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be.” Obama’s rallying cry was a unique variation: We shall defend America, “at a reasonable cost.” The entire economic portion of the speech had a tacked-on quality, as though the White House political team insisted on a focus group-driven addition, to assure Americans that Obama’s real agenda is jobs, jobs, jobs. Having earlier asserted that American security was directly at stake in Afghanistan, Obama employed the isolationism of a Democratic stump speech: “The nation that I am most interested in building is our own.”

At first, Obama’s tone seemed solemn and sober – the rhetorical mode in which he is most comfortable. Quickly, however, the speech became cerebral and passionless – Obama’s rhetorical temptation. In the end, the speech was just uninteresting – too long by a third.

Great war speeches involve policy, words and tone. On Tuesday night, the president’s policy was strong. His words sent conflicting messages of resolve and reluctance. His tone was uninspired and uninspiring. But we can hope that good policy is good enough.

By Michael Gerson  | December 2, 2009; 10:28 AM ET
Categories:  Gerson  | Tags:  Michael Gerson  
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Next: Obama's lonely decision

Comments

Very good analysis, but it omits a chief concern. I don't care how much "flexibility" the President left himself on the timing of the withdrawal, the announcement of withdrawal a mere 18 months from now was at the heart of the speech. If I'm a Taliban or Al Qaeda leader, I'm happy today.

Posted by: Roytex | December 2, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

If BO's speech is a sign of his true feelings, We might as well just surrender to the terrorists today, bring the boys home save some $ a dig graves for the victims of the next 9/11. We are in Afghanistan because it is a haven for Al Qaeda. I'm sure Osama liked the speech better than our cadets did.

Posted by: carlbatey | December 2, 2009 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Why should Obama acknowledge the Iraq surge? If we had sent those troops to Afghanistan instead of Iraq, we might have defeated Al Qaeda by now.

Posted by: maggots | December 2, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Very good analysis, but it omits a chief concern. I don't care how much "flexibility" the President left himself on the timing of the withdrawal, the announcement of withdrawal a mere 18 months from now was at the heart of the speech. If I'm a Taliban or Al Qaeda leader, I'm happy today.

Posted by: Roytex | December 2, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

#########################################

The Taliban and Al Qaeda were a lot happier under the Bush Administration, which totally neglected Afghanistan after 2002. We are still in Afghanistan today because of conservative incompetence over the previous eight years.

Posted by: maggots | December 2, 2009 12:05 PM | Report abuse

The new war president just officially rendered the anti-war left obsolete and useless as a political force.

Posted by: mock1ngb1rd | December 2, 2009 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Terrorists are cowards with no character who fight with no honor and have no respect for the lives of their own people much less others. To think you can rid the world of these people simply by winning in Afghanistan is simply untrue. If we win
in Afghanistan they will simply move somewhere else because they are ego maniacs who want to pretend that they can control the world with terror. There have
been others in the past and there will always be more. The difference in the past and the present is by feeding into their war mentality we are creating more hatred toward Americans and more terrorists.

Posted by: ecbowles1956 | December 2, 2009 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Old Gerson, Bush's former speechwriter and self-appointed defender of the Bush legacy, spends a great of time trying to justify the fact that Bush dropped the ball in Afghanistan to go play a new game that wasn't so hard, like a child who gives up trying to put square pegs into round hole to go watch SpongeBob Squarepants.

Gerson, if Bush hadn't neglected Afghanistan to invade Iraq, we wouldn't have needed a surge. If Bush hadn't neglected Afghanistan, we would be out already, and 4,500 US troops would not be dead, tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians would still be alive, and we would have spent trillion dollars less over the last 6 years, a trillion dollars we desperately need now.

Gerson wants Obama to stir the warrior hearts of Americans, to rouse us up and get us to support a stupid and failing war, to get us to cheer at the prospect of unending war and misery. Gerson is an idiot.

Posted by: Chagasman | December 2, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

"President Obama has made a necessary, mature national security decision on Afghanistan – a state of affairs that he seems embarrassed about"

Mr. Gerson, the only "necessity" of that decision comes from the government you served in mismanaging that war to a grotesque degree, even starting another war to mismanage instead of completing the job in Afghanistan -- a state of affairs you seem constitutionally incapable of being embarrassed about.

(Oh, and Mr. Hiatt? Having a hack like Mr. Gerson pretending to "analyze" Pres. Obama's speeches is beyond ridiculous.)

Posted by: sembtex | December 2, 2009 12:25 PM | Report abuse

obama's cinderella war

the war against al qaeda is a "vital national interest" obama says

and he is right

but then obama says the "vital national interest" disapppears in 18 months--july 2011 --just like cinderellla's coach turns into a pumpkin at midnight

it must be a coincidence that this is just before his reelection

obama does not understand--war is for keeps

war is not like cinderella's midnight curfew

Posted by: ProCounsel | December 2, 2009 12:25 PM | Report abuse

My sense is this: Obama carefully posed as a moderate during the campaign; he pretended to be hawkish on Afghanistan ("war of necessity"), since he was a dove on Iraq, and couldn't afford to appear to be a military softie (like Kucinich). Now he is stuck with his posturing. Does anyone truly believe his heart is in the Afghan surge? I saw no heart in his reading of the carefully scripted teleprompter words. I'm confident that he would have voted against an Afghan surge when he was a Senator, if Bush had proposed it. In fact, while he was a Senator, Obama had ample opportunity to step forward and press for more troops in Afghanistan. Is anyone surprised that he did not? He should have stuck with his heart and decided to end our ground engagement against the Taliban.

Posted by: MeInTheMiddle | December 2, 2009 12:35 PM | Report abuse

President Obama just REJECTED OUT OF HAND THE ENTIRE FAILED BUSH ADVENTURISM AND RELIGIOUS CRUSADE IN IRAQ, AND THE FAILURE OF THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION TO DO THE JOB IN AFGANISTAN.

Gerson is a liar and an idiot.

Posted by: onestring | December 2, 2009 12:45 PM | Report abuse

The Obama doctrine is to clean up and win the battles that Bush dragged us into and walked away from. This means Afghanistan, Iraq, the Financial Sector, our manufacturing economy, and our faith based culture. Even if it's painful and difficult to do. All of these things are in shambles thanks to your dear leaders awful policies.

Yes the surge worked......a good 5 years into the war. Had Bush originally listened to instead of fire the Generals on the ground then Iraq never would have gotten so bad. Or even better maybe we would've had an Afghan surge in 2002 and never bothered to bomb Iraq into the stone age since they had nothing to do with 9/11. He could have run for the 2004 election as a President who brought the perps to justice who struck us on 9/11. Instead we got snide remarks that Osama didn't matter and he was concerned about other things.

Gerson you are such a pathetic shill. Can you even stand to look at yourself in the mirror anymore??? Do you honestly believe the diarrhea that spills from your jowls or does that little kernel of humanity recognize that you're just warping the world around you to excuse yourself?

Posted by: theobserver4 | December 2, 2009 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Why should Obama acknowledge the Iraq surge? If we had sent those troops to Afghanistan instead of Iraq, we might have defeated Al Qaeda by now.

Posted by: maggots
__________________________________

Maybe Obama is being a bit to coy, but maggots' central point is valid. While Obama may have been wrong about the "surge" (and that's a contentious point which continues to be debated), he was certainly correct in his initial opposition to the war in Iraq.

Now, let's see . . . . What was Gerson's position regarding the invasion of Iraq??

No need to answer.

Posted by: post_reader_in_wv | December 2, 2009 12:56 PM | Report abuse

"Do you honestly believe the diarrhea that spills from your jowls or does that little kernel of humanity recognize that you're just warping the world around you to excuse yourself?"

Does the English major who wrote this "honestly believe" that it is powerful writing, stinging to the object of his attack, and bolsters his argument. Grow up and express your opinion like an adult. You probably will in due course anyway, so the sooner the better.

Posted by: Roytex | December 2, 2009 1:00 PM | Report abuse

I think roytex and carlbatey should just pull on their rubber diapers and leave the country if there that scared.

Posted by: kchses1 | December 2, 2009 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Michael Gerson writes for the Post as a voice for Bush Republicans. He's a good choice for that role, in that he strays not from the determination of Bush Republicans to put defense of the former President and his administration first, the national interest and all other considerations second.

I'm less clear about why such a voice is needed on the Post's already crowded roster of regular columnists, but there you are.

Posted by: jbritt3 | December 2, 2009 1:05 PM | Report abuse

If Bush/Cheney had done this right, we'd be out of there now.

Posted by: jckdoors | December 2, 2009 1:12 PM | Report abuse

When Churchill said, “We shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be.” the Nazis were daily dropping bombs on London. Today, eight years after 9/11 America doesn't feel the urgency to "win at all costs". Nor can it afford to think that way.
Perhaps if we had invoked a "whatever it takes" attitude at the outset of our incursion into Afghanistan we would not be faced with this dilemma today. I believe our time has passed in Afghanistan. They have seen us lose interest and withdraw for other adventures once. They have no reason to think we won't do it again, in Iran perhaps.
As to our timeline; Afghanistan has been at war for nearly three decades. Out-waiting the impatient Americans is as easy as having another cup of tea.

Posted by: dvrt | December 2, 2009 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Let's see if the news gives us a nightly body count toll like they did for Iraq while Bush was President? P. S. Obama gave a nearly identical speech March 2009 minus the July 2011 pullout.

Posted by: star_key2 | December 2, 2009 1:34 PM | Report abuse

If "Mission Accomplished" had been true we wouldn't be in this mess. Please stop talking negatively about how Pres. Obama "felt". He's the Commander In Chief and unlike some he expressed how he made the decisions and why and how he felt. I would prefer that to a swagger.

Posted by: rlj1 | December 2, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse

“Obama is so encouraged by the success he has had in snake-selling some outrageous accounting and fiscal claims on his HealthCare bill that he is ready to try the same tactic with the Taliban and Al-Qaeda; treat them like idiots.”
That is part of what Robbing America says of Obama’s new Afghan policy. They do not believe that the Taliban are now shaking on their sandals, but the contrary. Apparently the WSJ agrees with RA – http://www.robbingamerica.blogspot.com – and it would be wise if Palin, Romney, and Pawlenty, the likely Republican nominees, will read it before committing, like Palin did.

Posted by: JohnGalt9 | December 2, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse


Gerson, you silly little fool!

Bush rushed into Afghanistan unprepared, too light, too unthinkging...

and then forget our security when the zionists and neocons used 9/11 to get us to begin the Iraq-Iran-Syria takedown for Israel!

The neglect and watchful care of that those neocons thought a 'less glamorous' war was criminal. And we have paid for it.

To say Obama follows Bush and his neglect
IS THE SAME old refrain...

you trying to pretend you weren't and aren't a complete FAILURE AND JOKE. May even the dumbed down, truly failed
WaPo fire you first upon bankruptcy.

Posted by: whistling | December 2, 2009 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Gerson, you might have a point if Bush had retained focus on Afghanistan, but the truth is that he ran off to attack Iraq, leaving the unfinished mess for his successor. So let's can the crap about how this is some endorsement of the so-called Bush doctrine.

Posted by: rbe1 | December 2, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Nothing is more singularly ironic than listening to or reading the architects of America's current foreign policy mess, telling the new president exactly how he should get out of it. Kinda reminds me of that ol' saying about finding one's self in a hole...

Posted by: CardFan | December 2, 2009 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Gerson would have preferred that the president tell some lies about WMDs, and say that the war fought in Iraq for phony reasons that Gerson helped dream up was really justified. Doesn't the WaPo care at all about hiring a professional liar to write a column?

Posted by: turningfool | December 2, 2009 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Anyone know why Gerson, like his "fellow traveler" Cheney, never served?

uh huh ...

Bull.

Draft all the kids and grandkids of every millionaire and billionaire and send them, plus impose a 10 percent surtax on all salary, bonus, options, dividends, and capital gains for all millionaires to pay for it.

(crickets chirp)

Cowards.

Posted by: WillSeattle | December 2, 2009 2:39 PM | Report abuse


I was just going to read Gerson and let it go but then I read, "...key elements of the Bush doctrine...," and I counted to 10 and let it go then I read, "These arguments could have been made by George W. Bush—and were." and here I am...

What ever Gerson is he isn't stupid and he knows this is just apologist spin from a former Cheny/Bush minion.

The fact that he uses no finesse in this latest piece of mendacity speaks to the crass commercialism he thinks the media to be...as in throw some red meat, get traffic to the site and him specifically so he gets a bump come salary time.

As is the case when scoundrels write books campaigns often surface arguing that we should not "buy books from crooks."

Along those lines those of us who no full well that Gerson not only has blood on his hands but like his bosses Cheney/Bush is standing hip deep in the gore of the Iraq War of choice and ignored Afghanistan after giving Bin Laden a free pass out the back door at Tora Bora.

So along with Gerson I suggest we not contribute to the financial well being of the WPost as long as it fosters lies, distortions and obfuscations of the days events (and uses them to rewrite history) at a time when our nation is in desperate need of studied, honest and balanced commentary and straight up journalism the WPost is an insult to the American people's intelligence and a desecration of the Fourth Estate.

No web site hits, blog posts or contributions to comment strings for lying liars, thieves of good names and gossips...vote with your dollars, we are financing the bums otherwise


Posted by: teoc2 | December 2, 2009 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Gerson opines that Obama was "embarassed", "self-reverential", and "uninspiring." Of course, his neo-con moral compass won't allow him to acknowledge Obama's clear call for the kind of national unity that existed after 9/11. If a liberal pundit had written Gerson's column during the Bush-Cheney years, Repubs would have accused him of giving aid and comfort to the enemy. This total committment to hypocrisy and intellectual dishonesty is a major reason many of us moderate independents no longer vote for Republicans.

Posted by: BBear1 | December 2, 2009 3:29 PM | Report abuse

"Bush Doctrine." What a sick, bushing joke! Obama was "self-deferential"? To Bush flunkies and apologists, anything President Obama says to explain what he decides is "self-deferential." The Bush claque disdains Obama's ability to deliberate and put together coherent sentences. The loathsome Bush gang falsely portrays straightforward explanation as self-deferential egotism.
Gerson and his fellow Bush claques are far more comfortable with Bush and Cheney's "humble" lies to the American people.

Posted by: jimsteinberg1 | December 2, 2009 3:48 PM | Report abuse

It took President Obama three months to figure out how to vote, "present." The Afgan people who will be raped and murdered by the Taliban starting in August 2011 will not have a high opinion of Mr. Obama. Reagan said is strategy was: "We win. They lose." Obama strategy is: "Let's muddle around for 18 months, then lose."

Posted by: edgar_sousa | December 2, 2009 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Gerson leaves out a few minor details -
one of which is his neocon buddies like Cheney "DITHERED" around in Afghanistan for 6 years.

Gerson - if you're such an all-American hotshot, put down your chickenhawk keyboard,
and go stand a post with the rest of our brave young men and women.

Posted by: daveque | December 2, 2009 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Cluck Cluck all you want about Obama's words and tone. If W had done it right, we wouldn't be having this conversation.

Posted by: bertdavisjr | December 2, 2009 5:00 PM | Report abuse

The comparison with Churchill is absurd. The US is not defending its "island" in Afghanistan.
Gerson seems to forget that the Afghans drove the British out.

Posted by: twm1 | December 2, 2009 5:50 PM | Report abuse

Interesting analysis of the speech shaping process.

However, the Bush Doctrine was somewhat discredited by the invasion of Iraq. The invasion of Afghanistan wasn't pre-emptive, it followed 9/11. It's a bit different to finish an unfinished task where we're fighting the same forces who once harbored bin Laden than to declare we have the right to pre-emptively attack any nation based solely on the president's say-so.

Posted by: j2hess | December 2, 2009 6:49 PM | Report abuse

A shoddier than usual analysis from Gerson.

First, the points he cites as Bush doctrine in Obama's speech are not even remotely comparable for the simple reason that Obama is speaking about where Al Queda actually is (Afghanistan) and a real nuclear threat (proximity to the nuclear power Pakistan that shares a problematic border), whereas Bush did not because Al Qued was NOT in Iraq until we drew them in and there was never a serious nuclear threat in the form of Iraq. It is right wing revisionism of the most egregious sort that would try to draw a parallel between the two. If, on the other hand, Gerson's point is that what Obama said is what Bush should have said and done instead of going to war with Iraq, then we violently agree.

Second, the right wing ALWAYS forgets that the surge was one of three events that occurred more/less around the same time, and that pacifying Iraq was a joint product of all three: the surge, the Awakening (in effect, buying support amongst the Sunnis), and the stand-down of Sadr's militia in Iraq via side deals with the Iraqi government plus American assurances. Check the record - even the Pentagon said as much at the time. Only Gerson and the rest of the memory-challenged right wing forget this fact. So, the only way a parallel works is if there are comparable legs in the new Afghanistan strategy. Some of McKrystal's stuff has this, but, in the end, the problem with the Pashtun is VERY different than was the deal with the Sunnis, and I have yet to see any acknowledgment of this by anyone.

Posted by: lloydamy | December 2, 2009 7:00 PM | Report abuse

Michael Gerson's accidental irony reaches new heights (or depths). The man who invented the "mushroom cloud" metaphor for use by the Bush/Cheney/Rice oil industry gang to scare and dupe the American public into a war that has nearly bankrupted us and led to a million deaths, here talks about how Obama cannot "admit the surge worked" due to his pride.

Think about that one for a moment. You're amazing Gerson. A million deaths on your hands, never an acknowledgement of your role, and you can talk about someone else being in denial about Iraq.

Posted by: B2O2 | December 2, 2009 7:14 PM | Report abuse

"But there was almost no explanation of how a counterinsurgency effort actually proceeds and succeeds – how population security leads to strengthened and cooperative local leadership, which increases the flow of actionable intelligence."

Hello! Get a clue, Gerson. Obama had no such explanation to give, because no such explanation exists. No campaign of the sort proposed by McChrystal, Petraeus, et al has ever proceeded or succeeded, in all of military history. Your love object, a "successful" counterinsurgency campaign in Afghanistan, is vaporware completely on a par with Nixon's "secret plan to get us out of Vietnam." Besides, Obama clearly has no intention of following such a plan, which would require committment of forces long, long beyond 2011. You entire column is predicated on overlooking this glaring inconsistency.

Posted by: fzdybel | December 2, 2009 9:02 PM | Report abuse

Gerson: "But similar arguments will be made by every president, Democrat or Republican, for the next 50 years. They are a bipartisan consensus, rooted in dangers no president can responsibly deny."

Um, perhaps you idiots inside the Beltway don't seem to realize: the bipartisan "consensus" is what has screwed this country over and is driving America into a ditch. The Republicans and Democrats are both controlled by the same industries: financial and the military-industrial. Both industries get rich from either financing wars or building the machines of war. Hence, the constant state of war America has been in since, practically, WWII.

It is time to shred the consensus and have an actual change in our foreign policy, where our actions are for the good of the country, not the good of the bankers and gun manufacturers.

Posted by: pgbsan | December 2, 2009 9:06 PM | Report abuse

I must apologize as I only saw profound and immobilizing reluctance.

If there was any resolve it must have been to take as much time as possible to come to a far too delayed decision. That is resolution that American just does not need.

Posted by: mgd1 | December 2, 2009 9:44 PM | Report abuse

The President has embarked on a Fool's Errand, and it is not breaking news that fools like Gerson think it is a good idea.

Posted by: mikehike | December 3, 2009 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Stop trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ears.
The speech stank.
Obama is ambivalent due to political
calculations.
At least Bill Clinton didn't expect us to
sanctify his ruthless ambition.
This POTUS thinks so highly of himself and so little of us that he expects this sorry excuse of a key address to be interpreted with every "nuance" viewed in the most noble and lofty of light.
His speech said this to me:
Osama succeeded in exposing America's creed: Money rules. 9/11 did succeed in
its mission which was to blast out our financial walls; the hit on the Pentagon was just a distraction for good measure.
We'll pretend we are not out of money for 18 months;til then I'm kicking the can down the road, patriots such as the audience to whom I am speaking at the moment, be damned; I will take the politically expedient road; I'll recapture the middle cuz I'll look like a brave hero to defy the far left. (no one will know that I had no choice really).

A heartless, gutless speech by a heartless political hack of a president. Why our
West Point cadets had to play along is a travesty to them. What nerve to use them as a prop while he sold them out.
The mixed message comes from his lack of
patriotism and belief in the USA. It's the economy he cares about and that came through loudly and clearly.

Posted by: realitybased1 | December 3, 2009 1:57 PM | Report abuse

I love Obama and think his demeanor had more to do with the egg still on the WH's face and subsequent concerns for security at West Point.
I would have been mortified to have to travel so soon after the Salahi debacle, especially to a great school where smart kids go who really need to be protected from 'crashers'.
He has no choice but to go into Afghanistan full-force and get the job done. He's cleaning up Bush's mess, who was too busy following Bright Lights down into Iraq on his mission to avenge his Daddy's potential killer. American's are tired of sending troops over there and we don't have any money to do it. But, China expects us to not only complete this horror show, but also to ensure Iraq stays quiet also. They're bankrolling us, Obama has limited options here. The world at large is not going to stand for us wandering around, making messes in sandboxes, and then just up and leaving.
As to Iraq, it's time that baby gets ready to get kicked out of the nest. It will never stand on it's own and grow it's own backbone until it's forced to.
Time for some Tough Love.
We need to be out of there.

Also, war with Libya looms. We have to grow us some new soldiers and let some of this current bunch get time off.
We will be a presence in the Mid East forever, there is oil there. Even when we grow the new Green professions, there will always be those who will want to wear out a non-renewable resource until it's just all gone.

Posted by: Forked427 | December 4, 2009 8:17 AM | Report abuse

Why should Obama acknowledge the Iraq surge? If we had sent those troops to Afghanistan instead of Iraq, we might have defeated Al Qaeda by now.

Posted by: maggots | December 2, 2009 12:01 PM
===================================
We needed to defeat Al Qaeda in Iraq first, because Iraq is a wealthy nation in the heart of the Middle East. It has enormous geopolitical imortance in and of itself. Afghanistan is only important in that it might be used as a terrorist safe haven and training center.

Bush got his priorities right. Obama is following suite, not because he wants to, but because it's the only move that make good sense. He needs to make the right decisions if he is to have a chance at reelection in three years. If you support Obama for reelection, then you need to support his Afghanistan policy.

Posted by: ZZim | December 7, 2009 11:03 AM | Report abuse

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