Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Mr. Obama's War

Over the next several weeks there will certainly be more in-depth reaction to Obama's decision last night to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan.  For now, the early consensus - with which I agree - is that Obama more or less made the right call, except for the setting of a withdrawal deadline.  The first concern is whether he's now committed to his own policy. And how will Obama's quick "surge and exit" strategy serve the long-term goal of stabilizing Afghanistan?

Three quick observations: First, Obama continues to show a lack of graciousness towards President Bush.  He not only blamed the lack of success in Afghanistan on Bush, but he also refused to give him any credit whatsoever for the obvious success of the Iraqi surge and subsequent stabilization.  Second, as Karl Rove pointed out yesterday, for Obama to blame Bush for not fully resourcing the Afghan war is particularly galling since Obama, as a US Senator, had opposed Bush's military spending requests over and over again (and had also opposed the Iraqi surge that he now advocates for Afghanistan).  Finally, Obama loses a great deal of credit for doing the right thing - as when he rightly notes that this is a necessary war which effects the safety of the entire world - but then says: win, lose or draw we must be out in 18 months because we simply can't afford this fight.  That's not something we would have ever heard Churchill - or George W. Bush, for that matter - say.

Here's a good summary of where we are right now.  Listen, in particular to the great Dr. K who observes Obama's defensiveness in presenting the case for the "surge and exit" strategy.

Whatever happens from here on in, the Afghan war is under new management.  This is now Mr. Obama's war - win or lose.

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