A surge but then a timetable to leave

President Obama has made his decision on the war in Afghanistan:

US President Barack Obama has ordered 30,000 more US troops to Afghanistan but warned America would begin to withdraw its military by 2011.

The new deployment over six months will bring America's troop strength in the country to more than 100,000, in the fight against Taliban militants.

Mr Obama also urged America's allies in Nato to send more troops.

Defending the war, he insisted there were no parallels with Vietnam and that world security was at stake.

I support the President in this. (Democrats, give me credit. But do YOU support him in this?) After all, the “surge” in Iraq seems to have worked. But doesn’t announcing a timetable for withdrawal at the very same time undermine the effect? Why wouldn’t the Taliban just lie low until 2011, and then come out once the Americans leave?

What do you think of the speech at West Point and his plans?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Peter Leavitt

    This speech is vintage Obama campaign politics. He trapped himself in the campaign by declaring the Afghanistan war a good one compared to the evil Bush’s bad one in Iraq. So he comes out with a hard-hitting pro-war speech that provides thirty-thousand more troops with the mission of defeating alQuaeda and the Taliban. His pro-war rhetoric could warm the hearts of the neo-cons.

    But wait, the troops will start coming home in eighteen months after they, having magicallly succeeded in fulfilling Obama’s fantasy, will have defeated alQuaeda, stopped the Taliban momentum, and trained the Afghani troops to soldier on; meanwhile alQuaeda and the Taliban will find a way to lie low for eighteen months and get ready to strike later.

  • Peter Leavitt

    This speech is vintage Obama campaign politics. He trapped himself in the campaign by declaring the Afghanistan war a good one compared to the evil Bush’s bad one in Iraq. So he comes out with a hard-hitting pro-war speech that provides thirty-thousand more troops with the mission of defeating alQuaeda and the Taliban. His pro-war rhetoric could warm the hearts of the neo-cons.

    But wait, the troops will start coming home in eighteen months after they, having magicallly succeeded in fulfilling Obama’s fantasy, will have defeated alQuaeda, stopped the Taliban momentum, and trained the Afghani troops to soldier on; meanwhile alQuaeda and the Taliban will find a way to lie low for eighteen months and get ready to strike later.

  • Jack Kilcrease

    The timetable does undermine the effect. That’s the intention. He doesn’t want to win in Af.

    National security has always been a problem for Democrats since Vietnam- since they think any war effort for them is “vietnam all over again” (think of Pelosi’s charaterization of the surge as “escalation”). If there’s a war, their against it. That’s been one of the main appeals of them since the 80s, namely being against wars the Republican are for.

    Nevertheless, after September 11th, people felt threatened by terrorism and they couldn’t be against wars automatically like they used to be. This put them in a bind. If they were in favor of war, then they would just be jumping on a Republican band wagon- so why elect them and not the Republicans? Or on the other hand, they could be against war and therefore either look naive or make people nervous. All they could really say is to be different was “let’s do less” which of course, they couldn’t say.

    But along came the Iraq war. Once popular opinion turned against it, they could use Afganistan as a means claiming they really for war. So, here’s what Obama did. He could claim that he really was for war, but the Republicans were wrong for fighting the wrong war in Iraq. They were for more war in Afganistan and therefore more security. Unfortunately for Obama, Iraq was successfully won and therefore cannot be used as a bogey man against the Republicans anymore and he’s stuck with all his promises about Af. Now, he really didn’t care about Af. and was in my view simply using it as a means of claiming to be hawkish, without really being hawkish. If it were up to him, he would just withdraw.

    What he said yesterday is therefore consistent with this. He’s going to do some sort of surge, in order to convince people that he’s still hawkish and therefore not a weak peace Democrat that doesn’t take national security seriously. Nevertheless, he’s going to undermine the effort and probably make it fail by making a timeline. That way the terrorists will know how long they have to wait before they takeover and just bid their time. When we leave and the Jihadists takeover against, he believes he can throw up his hands and blame everything on Bush. In fact, he continued to do that in the speech as well, even though he’s been in office for 11 months now.

  • Jack Kilcrease

    The timetable does undermine the effect. That’s the intention. He doesn’t want to win in Af.

    National security has always been a problem for Democrats since Vietnam- since they think any war effort for them is “vietnam all over again” (think of Pelosi’s charaterization of the surge as “escalation”). If there’s a war, their against it. That’s been one of the main appeals of them since the 80s, namely being against wars the Republican are for.

    Nevertheless, after September 11th, people felt threatened by terrorism and they couldn’t be against wars automatically like they used to be. This put them in a bind. If they were in favor of war, then they would just be jumping on a Republican band wagon- so why elect them and not the Republicans? Or on the other hand, they could be against war and therefore either look naive or make people nervous. All they could really say is to be different was “let’s do less” which of course, they couldn’t say.

    But along came the Iraq war. Once popular opinion turned against it, they could use Afganistan as a means claiming they really for war. So, here’s what Obama did. He could claim that he really was for war, but the Republicans were wrong for fighting the wrong war in Iraq. They were for more war in Afganistan and therefore more security. Unfortunately for Obama, Iraq was successfully won and therefore cannot be used as a bogey man against the Republicans anymore and he’s stuck with all his promises about Af. Now, he really didn’t care about Af. and was in my view simply using it as a means of claiming to be hawkish, without really being hawkish. If it were up to him, he would just withdraw.

    What he said yesterday is therefore consistent with this. He’s going to do some sort of surge, in order to convince people that he’s still hawkish and therefore not a weak peace Democrat that doesn’t take national security seriously. Nevertheless, he’s going to undermine the effort and probably make it fail by making a timeline. That way the terrorists will know how long they have to wait before they takeover and just bid their time. When we leave and the Jihadists takeover against, he believes he can throw up his hands and blame everything on Bush. In fact, he continued to do that in the speech as well, even though he’s been in office for 11 months now.

  • Heidi

    I think he was trying to make both sides pleased with him and thus came with a comprimise that makes no one completely satisified.

  • Heidi

    I think he was trying to make both sides pleased with him and thus came with a comprimise that makes no one completely satisified.

  • Dan Kempin

    I wouldn’t worry. Now that our nobel laureate, wildly-popular-around-the-world president has “urged America’s allies in Nato to send more troops,” we shouldn’t have to do much more than mop up.

    Sorry . . . did that sound sarcastic?

    Denying the parallel to Vietnam was done to precisely to invoke Vietnam in people’s minds. Why else bring it up? This is a setup to frame the withdrawal. Pres. Obama, after committing to a strong response to terror, will have the “wisdom” to recognize that it is an untenable situation, and the “political courage” (possibly “strength of resolve”) to pull out (possibly “re-deploy”)before it becomes another “quagmire.” Thus it will be a “brilliant” tactical move and a “victory” to pull out of Afghanistan, so that we can fight terror “more effectively” and “on our own terms” elsewhere.

    That’s my theory, anyway. Do I win anything if I turn out to be right?

  • Dan Kempin

    I wouldn’t worry. Now that our nobel laureate, wildly-popular-around-the-world president has “urged America’s allies in Nato to send more troops,” we shouldn’t have to do much more than mop up.

    Sorry . . . did that sound sarcastic?

    Denying the parallel to Vietnam was done to precisely to invoke Vietnam in people’s minds. Why else bring it up? This is a setup to frame the withdrawal. Pres. Obama, after committing to a strong response to terror, will have the “wisdom” to recognize that it is an untenable situation, and the “political courage” (possibly “strength of resolve”) to pull out (possibly “re-deploy”)before it becomes another “quagmire.” Thus it will be a “brilliant” tactical move and a “victory” to pull out of Afghanistan, so that we can fight terror “more effectively” and “on our own terms” elsewhere.

    That’s my theory, anyway. Do I win anything if I turn out to be right?

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Timetable is a killer. If I were a Jihadi, I’d simply hide the AK and RPGs for a while and come out shooting when the Americans were gone. Roosevelt didn’t say that the boys would come home in 1945. He said they’d come home when the war was won, and people back then were mature enough to understand that.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Timetable is a killer. If I were a Jihadi, I’d simply hide the AK and RPGs for a while and come out shooting when the Americans were gone. Roosevelt didn’t say that the boys would come home in 1945. He said they’d come home when the war was won, and people back then were mature enough to understand that.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    My impression last night was reality is beginning to set in for Obama, but it has a long way to go yet. I think he has realized that just because there is “no military solution” does not mean the military cannot be effective in helping about another solution. He has finally figured out that you can’t just up an leave a country.
    The 18 month timetable? Saving face. He is saving face with his liberal counterparts. He knows he can’t keep that promise anymore than he has been able to do any of the other ones he gave during his campaign. He doesn’t want to admit it quite yet, but I think he knows the reality. Eighteen months will come and go and if the job is not done, and I bet it will not be, we will still be there.
    His head in the clouds speach about a world without nuclear missiles, showed that he is still boyish and naive. He has a lot to learn about the realities of this world, he might start taking some Polisci courses.
    But over all I saw some evidence that he is growing up a bit. A little late if you ask me, but better now than not ever.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    My impression last night was reality is beginning to set in for Obama, but it has a long way to go yet. I think he has realized that just because there is “no military solution” does not mean the military cannot be effective in helping about another solution. He has finally figured out that you can’t just up an leave a country.
    The 18 month timetable? Saving face. He is saving face with his liberal counterparts. He knows he can’t keep that promise anymore than he has been able to do any of the other ones he gave during his campaign. He doesn’t want to admit it quite yet, but I think he knows the reality. Eighteen months will come and go and if the job is not done, and I bet it will not be, we will still be there.
    His head in the clouds speach about a world without nuclear missiles, showed that he is still boyish and naive. He has a lot to learn about the realities of this world, he might start taking some Polisci courses.
    But over all I saw some evidence that he is growing up a bit. A little late if you ask me, but better now than not ever.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    I also liked that he finally admitted the U.S. does have a glorious history and heritage that should be celebrated, and possibly guide us forward. Enough of this apologizing b.s.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    I also liked that he finally admitted the U.S. does have a glorious history and heritage that should be celebrated, and possibly guide us forward. Enough of this apologizing b.s.

  • Larry Wright

    Dan

    “wildly-popular-around-the-world president”

    Maybe the emperor’s clothes are fading? Check out Der Spiegel online…

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,664753,00.html

  • Larry Wright

    Dan

    “wildly-popular-around-the-world president”

    Maybe the emperor’s clothes are fading? Check out Der Spiegel online…

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,664753,00.html

  • Peter Leavitt

    Ralph Peters suma up::

    What messages did our president’s bait-and-switch speech just send?

    To our troops: Risk your lives for a mission I’ve written off.

    To our allies: Race you to the exit ramp.

    To the Taliban: Allah is merciful, your prayers will soon be answered.

    To Afghan leaders: Get your stolen wealth out of the country.

    To Pakistan: Renew your Taliban friendships now (and be nice to al Qaeda).

    This isn’t just stupid: It’s immoral. No American president has ever espoused such a worthless, self-absorbed non-strategy for his own political gratification.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Ralph Peters suma up::

    What messages did our president’s bait-and-switch speech just send?

    To our troops: Risk your lives for a mission I’ve written off.

    To our allies: Race you to the exit ramp.

    To the Taliban: Allah is merciful, your prayers will soon be answered.

    To Afghan leaders: Get your stolen wealth out of the country.

    To Pakistan: Renew your Taliban friendships now (and be nice to al Qaeda).

    This isn’t just stupid: It’s immoral. No American president has ever espoused such a worthless, self-absorbed non-strategy for his own political gratification.

  • E-Raj

    This is what happens when we have an unconstitutional war. I’m for the war in Afghanistan, but it should have been a “declared war” voted on by Congress, according to the Constitution. If that had happened, the term “Bush’s war” would have never been applied to both theatres in Iraw and Afghanistan. See what happens when we don’t follow the Constitution? We get things like Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Where were the war protesters in WWII? Besides the lunatic fringe, they were absent, because the government was solidly behind the war. Now, we have a president trying to satisfy everyone because our government was split about going to war in the first place.

  • E-Raj

    This is what happens when we have an unconstitutional war. I’m for the war in Afghanistan, but it should have been a “declared war” voted on by Congress, according to the Constitution. If that had happened, the term “Bush’s war” would have never been applied to both theatres in Iraw and Afghanistan. See what happens when we don’t follow the Constitution? We get things like Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Where were the war protesters in WWII? Besides the lunatic fringe, they were absent, because the government was solidly behind the war. Now, we have a president trying to satisfy everyone because our government was split about going to war in the first place.

  • Daniel Gorman

    Pres. Obama’s speech was an excellent statement of a bad policy. All American troops should be withdrawn immediately from Afghanistan (and Iraq). The CIA should continue its covert war to kill Bin Laden and his associates.

    Unlike Pres. Bush, Pres. Obama has leveled with the American people. We don’t have unlimited time, money, and blood for the Afghan War. Our military and treasury have been drained by a counter-productive war in Iraq. The Afghans will have to step up in a hurry or accept rule the Taliban.

  • Daniel Gorman

    Pres. Obama’s speech was an excellent statement of a bad policy. All American troops should be withdrawn immediately from Afghanistan (and Iraq). The CIA should continue its covert war to kill Bin Laden and his associates.

    Unlike Pres. Bush, Pres. Obama has leveled with the American people. We don’t have unlimited time, money, and blood for the Afghan War. Our military and treasury have been drained by a counter-productive war in Iraq. The Afghans will have to step up in a hurry or accept rule the Taliban.

  • Joe

    I am a fan of declared wars as well. But Congress voted to authorize the use of military force in both Iraq and the ‘Stan. That is a declaration of war. To argue otherwise is to put form over substance.

    As for Obama’s plan. I think the surge is the right course, but the timetable is a loser.

    First, it is not a real timetable. His speech said flat out that withdrawal will be dictated by the conditions on the ground. So 18 months is not really the end game. It is just language to try to through a bone to the anti-war, bring them home now folks. Military planning should not have such stuff in it.

    Second, it gives the enemy a goal. Survive and keep low until the “deadline” and maybe the US will leave. Then we can come back out and start up again.

    Third, despite the fact that it is not a real time table, Obama just gave himself a sure fire way to fail. He just took three months to make a decision, he rejected all proposal given to him and demanded a new course, he gave a speech where he made it very, very clear that this is HIS plan. And His plan contains a deadline that I think is not realistic. When the 18 months comes and goes and we are still there, his plan will have failed. If the 18 months comes and goes and we leave prematurely, his plan will have failed. In order to look like the great military strategist he has made himself out to be he will have to hit a homerun in 18 months. I think this is highly unlikely and when it does not happen. The anti-war crowd will say – this was inevitable, we were domed to fail. All you did was sent tens of thousands more troops into harms way. It was never going to work. The hawks will blame the failure on the announcement of a time table and the failure of Obama to make the decision for three months while the world watched. I think this time table is a political nightmare for Obama.

  • Joe

    I am a fan of declared wars as well. But Congress voted to authorize the use of military force in both Iraq and the ‘Stan. That is a declaration of war. To argue otherwise is to put form over substance.

    As for Obama’s plan. I think the surge is the right course, but the timetable is a loser.

    First, it is not a real timetable. His speech said flat out that withdrawal will be dictated by the conditions on the ground. So 18 months is not really the end game. It is just language to try to through a bone to the anti-war, bring them home now folks. Military planning should not have such stuff in it.

    Second, it gives the enemy a goal. Survive and keep low until the “deadline” and maybe the US will leave. Then we can come back out and start up again.

    Third, despite the fact that it is not a real time table, Obama just gave himself a sure fire way to fail. He just took three months to make a decision, he rejected all proposal given to him and demanded a new course, he gave a speech where he made it very, very clear that this is HIS plan. And His plan contains a deadline that I think is not realistic. When the 18 months comes and goes and we are still there, his plan will have failed. If the 18 months comes and goes and we leave prematurely, his plan will have failed. In order to look like the great military strategist he has made himself out to be he will have to hit a homerun in 18 months. I think this is highly unlikely and when it does not happen. The anti-war crowd will say – this was inevitable, we were domed to fail. All you did was sent tens of thousands more troops into harms way. It was never going to work. The hawks will blame the failure on the announcement of a time table and the failure of Obama to make the decision for three months while the world watched. I think this time table is a political nightmare for Obama.

  • Tom Hering

    “Defeating the terrorists” is the reason given for this war. Can this war actually accomplish the terrorists’ defeat – or at least contribute to their defeat in a big enough way to justify all our costs? If not, what’s the point in continuing this war?

    War and counter-terrorism are two different things. The latter is effective. The former, not so much.

  • Tom Hering

    “Defeating the terrorists” is the reason given for this war. Can this war actually accomplish the terrorists’ defeat – or at least contribute to their defeat in a big enough way to justify all our costs? If not, what’s the point in continuing this war?

    War and counter-terrorism are two different things. The latter is effective. The former, not so much.

  • DonS

    I give Obama considerable credit for taking this action. Politically, he is taking quite a hit from the left and, though he set out a timetable, he allowed for the likelihood that it may have to be extended depending upon conditions on the ground. I support the surge in order to ensure increased safety for the troops we already have in Afghanistan. General Petraeus supported his assertion of a timetable, because it lends structure and purpose to the mission, as long as it is flexible.

    As to whether our continued presence in Afghanistan is worthwhile, that is another issue that I am not sufficiently informed about to be able to answer. When we entered the country, it was for the purpose of taking out Bin Laden and Al Quaida. Well, we didn’t capture or apparently kill Bin Laden, but I believe he has been emasculated. And Al Quaida appears to have vacated the country in favor of Pakistan. So, since our Afghanistan mission appears to have been accomplished, why are we still there? Is the defeat of the Taliban a sufficient achievement to justify the cost in both blood and treasure? I don’t know.

  • DonS

    I give Obama considerable credit for taking this action. Politically, he is taking quite a hit from the left and, though he set out a timetable, he allowed for the likelihood that it may have to be extended depending upon conditions on the ground. I support the surge in order to ensure increased safety for the troops we already have in Afghanistan. General Petraeus supported his assertion of a timetable, because it lends structure and purpose to the mission, as long as it is flexible.

    As to whether our continued presence in Afghanistan is worthwhile, that is another issue that I am not sufficiently informed about to be able to answer. When we entered the country, it was for the purpose of taking out Bin Laden and Al Quaida. Well, we didn’t capture or apparently kill Bin Laden, but I believe he has been emasculated. And Al Quaida appears to have vacated the country in favor of Pakistan. So, since our Afghanistan mission appears to have been accomplished, why are we still there? Is the defeat of the Taliban a sufficient achievement to justify the cost in both blood and treasure? I don’t know.

  • Jonathan

    And wasn’t there a timeline for closing GITMO also? How’s that going for him?

    If it doesn’t go well in AFG, my guess is it, too, will simply slide to the right, and he’ll take more heat from his political base because he has committed to “win.” No amount of spin can overcome that if we pull out and AFG is still in the same shape or worse.

  • Jonathan

    And wasn’t there a timeline for closing GITMO also? How’s that going for him?

    If it doesn’t go well in AFG, my guess is it, too, will simply slide to the right, and he’ll take more heat from his political base because he has committed to “win.” No amount of spin can overcome that if we pull out and AFG is still in the same shape or worse.

  • Peter

    Why is there little to no talk about how this ‘surge’ will be paid for? Everyone knows we’ll be in Viet-, er, Afghanistan for years to come, just like we’ll be in Iraq forever, if not with combat troops then with a huge civilian/military presence. Heck, we’re still in Germany, Japan and Korea. Unless we’re literally thrown out (e.g., Vietnam), we don’t leave.
    So, how do we pay for it all while our economy crumbles….? Where are the deficit hawks? Where, for that matter, is the ‘pro life’ religious right, which strangely never seems to protest that most ‘pro death’ of government undertakings, war?

  • Peter

    Why is there little to no talk about how this ‘surge’ will be paid for? Everyone knows we’ll be in Viet-, er, Afghanistan for years to come, just like we’ll be in Iraq forever, if not with combat troops then with a huge civilian/military presence. Heck, we’re still in Germany, Japan and Korea. Unless we’re literally thrown out (e.g., Vietnam), we don’t leave.
    So, how do we pay for it all while our economy crumbles….? Where are the deficit hawks? Where, for that matter, is the ‘pro life’ religious right, which strangely never seems to protest that most ‘pro death’ of government undertakings, war?

  • Booklover

    The typical war strategist keeps his strategy secret from the enemy. Why didn’t anyone clue the President in on this?

  • Booklover

    The typical war strategist keeps his strategy secret from the enemy. Why didn’t anyone clue the President in on this?

  • DonS

    Peter @ 16: I agree that we should count the cost of our effort in Afghanistan (see my post @ 14). But, I take from the tone of your comment that you have liberal leanings. Are you similarly wondering how we are going to pay for Obama’s health care overhaul, Democratic proposals to reduce carbon emissions by 80% over the next 40 years, and the ever increasing bite of out-year entitlements such as MediCare and Social Security?

    Let us remember that the preeminent Constitutional function of the federal government is to provide for the national defense. It is our priority. It should be paid for first. Liberals love to talk about the cost of the military (it’s the only part of government they are interested in cutting), but, sheesh, it’s a small fraction of the problem that we have with spending. In addition to being a national priority, it involves an annual appropriation. We are not obligating our children and grandchildren to continuing spending because of out-year entitlements, on automatic pilot, as is the case with other government programs, such as those mentioned above. It is estimated that we currently have future entitlement obligations totalling over $60 trillion! That dwarfs our current actual national debt of approx. $12 trillion, and currently amounts to about 5 years of total GDP.

    So, if you are willing to address this problem of entitlements, we can, at the same time, talk about intelligent defense spending cuts.

  • DonS

    Peter @ 16: I agree that we should count the cost of our effort in Afghanistan (see my post @ 14). But, I take from the tone of your comment that you have liberal leanings. Are you similarly wondering how we are going to pay for Obama’s health care overhaul, Democratic proposals to reduce carbon emissions by 80% over the next 40 years, and the ever increasing bite of out-year entitlements such as MediCare and Social Security?

    Let us remember that the preeminent Constitutional function of the federal government is to provide for the national defense. It is our priority. It should be paid for first. Liberals love to talk about the cost of the military (it’s the only part of government they are interested in cutting), but, sheesh, it’s a small fraction of the problem that we have with spending. In addition to being a national priority, it involves an annual appropriation. We are not obligating our children and grandchildren to continuing spending because of out-year entitlements, on automatic pilot, as is the case with other government programs, such as those mentioned above. It is estimated that we currently have future entitlement obligations totalling over $60 trillion! That dwarfs our current actual national debt of approx. $12 trillion, and currently amounts to about 5 years of total GDP.

    So, if you are willing to address this problem of entitlements, we can, at the same time, talk about intelligent defense spending cuts.

  • Peter

    DonS – “We” can’t discuss my question @16 unless I first agree to “address this problem of entitlements”? You have control issues, sir.

  • Peter

    DonS – “We” can’t discuss my question @16 unless I first agree to “address this problem of entitlements”? You have control issues, sir.

  • Peter Leavitt

    DonS, I appreciate your considerate view of Obama’s policy. Personally, I found his speech last evening very political and unconvincing, though I understand that in hard policy terms he is supporting Sec’y Gates’s and Gen. McChrystal’s view and that in doing so he has run afoul of his leftist base along with the usual isolationists.

    I, also, understand that Obama with his eighteen-month plan to start withdrawing American troops is trying to galvanize Karzai to be more effective in doing Afghan’s part in winning this war. Obama did say that he would judge the troop withdrawal based on conditions on the ground.

    The real issue, as a WSJ editorial remarked today, is whether Obama is truly committed to winning this war or playing politics with it, trying to satisfy both the left and the right. I am skeptical of Obama, though, should he show real signs of having the steel to win this war, he would deserve much credit.

    I, also, agree with Veith’s consistent remarks that Republicans, having experienced the vicious Democratic party politicizing of the Iraq War, need to be loyal to a Democratic president, should he be truly interested in winning the Af/Pak war.

  • Peter Leavitt

    DonS, I appreciate your considerate view of Obama’s policy. Personally, I found his speech last evening very political and unconvincing, though I understand that in hard policy terms he is supporting Sec’y Gates’s and Gen. McChrystal’s view and that in doing so he has run afoul of his leftist base along with the usual isolationists.

    I, also, understand that Obama with his eighteen-month plan to start withdrawing American troops is trying to galvanize Karzai to be more effective in doing Afghan’s part in winning this war. Obama did say that he would judge the troop withdrawal based on conditions on the ground.

    The real issue, as a WSJ editorial remarked today, is whether Obama is truly committed to winning this war or playing politics with it, trying to satisfy both the left and the right. I am skeptical of Obama, though, should he show real signs of having the steel to win this war, he would deserve much credit.

    I, also, agree with Veith’s consistent remarks that Republicans, having experienced the vicious Democratic party politicizing of the Iraq War, need to be loyal to a Democratic president, should he be truly interested in winning the Af/Pak war.

  • DonS

    Peter, obviously I didn’t mean you and me, literally. I was speaking of the country as a whole and our political leaders. The point being, conservatives are not going to be impressed with a liberal’s sudden expressed desire for government cost cutting, when that desire is so single mindedly focused on national defense and ignores the elephant in the room, entitlements. In fact, doesn’t just ignore existing entitlements, but wants to pile on additional ones.

  • DonS

    Peter, obviously I didn’t mean you and me, literally. I was speaking of the country as a whole and our political leaders. The point being, conservatives are not going to be impressed with a liberal’s sudden expressed desire for government cost cutting, when that desire is so single mindedly focused on national defense and ignores the elephant in the room, entitlements. In fact, doesn’t just ignore existing entitlements, but wants to pile on additional ones.

  • DonS

    In post 21, I was addressing Peter @ 19, and not Peter Leavitt @ 20 :-)

    Well stated, Peter Leavitt.

  • DonS

    In post 21, I was addressing Peter @ 19, and not Peter Leavitt @ 20 :-)

    Well stated, Peter Leavitt.

  • http://uest fws

    the surge in iraq has failed.

    the goal was to pacify the nation to provide breathing room for the politicians there to hammer out a political consensus.

    This has failed miserably. This means that when we exit, things will most likely implode.

    I am not in anyway, by saying this, detracting from the fact that our troops have brilliantly executed what they were asked to do.

  • http://uest fws

    the surge in iraq has failed.

    the goal was to pacify the nation to provide breathing room for the politicians there to hammer out a political consensus.

    This has failed miserably. This means that when we exit, things will most likely implode.

    I am not in anyway, by saying this, detracting from the fact that our troops have brilliantly executed what they were asked to do.

  • Joe

    Frank – how do you come to that conclusion, that the surge has failed in Iraq?

  • Joe

    Frank – how do you come to that conclusion, that the surge has failed in Iraq?

  • Cincinnatus

    fws, that’s a spurious claim. Almost all observers note that the surge has succeeded wildly. You are still free to disagree with it (in fact, I do), but not on the grounds that it has failed.

    In this particular case, I don’t anticipate the Afghanistan “surge” helping in the least.

  • Cincinnatus

    fws, that’s a spurious claim. Almost all observers note that the surge has succeeded wildly. You are still free to disagree with it (in fact, I do), but not on the grounds that it has failed.

    In this particular case, I don’t anticipate the Afghanistan “surge” helping in the least.

  • Wyldeirishman

    For what it’s worth (and that may not be saying much, as amateur-hour continues to run rampant on Pennsylvania Avenue), setting up a timetable (conditions and acid-reflux level subject to change, naturally) is no bad thing in and of itself. The government of Berzerkistan, being the imbalanced washing-machine load that it is, can surely see the wisdom of this.

    The painfully obvious error, then, is announcing the intent to do so, giving every enemy within reach of their radio or television their battle plans for the next couple of years.

    That’s not merely amateurish; it’s just plain idiotic, and attempts to play Janus to both constituency and critic alike.

    FAIL.

  • Wyldeirishman

    For what it’s worth (and that may not be saying much, as amateur-hour continues to run rampant on Pennsylvania Avenue), setting up a timetable (conditions and acid-reflux level subject to change, naturally) is no bad thing in and of itself. The government of Berzerkistan, being the imbalanced washing-machine load that it is, can surely see the wisdom of this.

    The painfully obvious error, then, is announcing the intent to do so, giving every enemy within reach of their radio or television their battle plans for the next couple of years.

    That’s not merely amateurish; it’s just plain idiotic, and attempts to play Janus to both constituency and critic alike.

    FAIL.

  • Bruce Gee

    WHY WE ARE IN AFGHANISTAN:

    http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=NGI4MDFhOTIwMzdhOTZhMGU5ZjhjYTMyYzczNWM0MjQ=

    The Commission’s crop-duster scenario was conceived after Americans discovered two Afghan anthrax laboratories. Larsen says, “This was a response to the capability they could have had if we had not gone into Afghanistan, killed or captured those people, and shut down those facilities.” Page 151 of the 9/11 Commission Report says Jemaah Islamiah agent Yazid Sufaat “would spend several months attempting to cultivate anthrax for al Qaeda in a laboratory he helped set up near the Kandahar airport.”

    There’s more where that came from, folks. If we don’t go looking for it, it’ll come to us sooner or later.

  • Bruce Gee

    WHY WE ARE IN AFGHANISTAN:

    http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=NGI4MDFhOTIwMzdhOTZhMGU5ZjhjYTMyYzczNWM0MjQ=

    The Commission’s crop-duster scenario was conceived after Americans discovered two Afghan anthrax laboratories. Larsen says, “This was a response to the capability they could have had if we had not gone into Afghanistan, killed or captured those people, and shut down those facilities.” Page 151 of the 9/11 Commission Report says Jemaah Islamiah agent Yazid Sufaat “would spend several months attempting to cultivate anthrax for al Qaeda in a laboratory he helped set up near the Kandahar airport.”

    There’s more where that came from, folks. If we don’t go looking for it, it’ll come to us sooner or later.


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