"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." -- Theodore Roosevelt


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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Obama Gives Go Ahead to Troop Surge in Afghanistan-- but Hedges Bets

Well, Obama (after how many months of dithering?) has finally made a decision regarding McChrystal's request for more troops. He's sending in 34,000 more troops, but is hedging his bets which greatly increases the chances of failure.

Clifton B. at Another Black Conservative has a good analysis here. As Clifton B. points out, "General Stanley McChrystal gave Obama three options, a low-risk option of 80,000 troops, a medium-risk option of 40,000 troops and a high-risk option of 20,000 troops. Obama decision seems to fall short of the medium risk option and it will be interesting to hear his decision why."

While it will be interesting to hear Obama's justifications for what seems to be the politically safest bet, the real reasons will never be publicly voiced. However, they are not so difficult to speculate on. Obama has given himself the most outs possible without simply walking away from the whole thing and admitting utter failure in a war that he vocally supported while a Senator.

As both McClatchy and Another Black Conservative point out, Obama has given himself a number of "off-ramps" regarding troop deployment. "The administration's plan contains 'off-ramps,' points starting next June at which Obama could decide to continue the flow of troops, halt the deployments and adopt a more limited strategy or 'begin looking very quickly at exiting' the country, depending on political and military progress, one defense official said.

[...]

"It's 'not just how we get people there, but what's the strategy for getting them out,' White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Monday."

It's gotta be a little discouraging to people when the White House press secretary is already talking about pulling troops out even as they announce they will be sending more in...

This last laugher from McClatchy: "The administration's plan is expected to encounter opposition on Capitol Hill, where some senior Democrats have suggested that the administration may need to raise taxes in order to pay for the additional troops."

Democrats objecting to raising taxes?! I guess senior Dems think that taxes aren't so great when they're not trillions of dollars funding government health care "reform," political payoff-- err I mean ineffective economic "stimulus," Cap & Trade, etc. Geez. These guys would rather underfund US troops (I mean we already have 68,000 troops in Afghanistan) rather than hold back their grandiose and unpopular domestic agendas.

Obama's decision, at first glance, appears to be just about the worst he could have possibly made. Without proper support, sending more troops into a conflict is one of the worst things that can be done. Without the proper political and financial support and clear mission objectives, the only thing that's accomplished with a troop build-up is sending more troops into un-winnable and demoralizing danger. These men and women need (and deserve) a commitment of full financial and political backing-- something that Obama's months of dithering has proven the White House is, at the absolute best, very reluctant to give. The Congressional Dems are already whining about the cost of the Afghanistan conflict, even though they passed a $789 billion+ stimulus and prepare to pass a $1 trillion debacle of a bill labeled health care "reform."

Do you, for a minute, believe that Obama will be willing to go to the mat for these troops? He won't even fully commit to the 40,000 "moderate risk" deployment-- never mind an 80,000 low risk deployment. And surely Obama will never compromise his perceived legacy of inflicting upon all of us his astronomically expensive health care "reforms" to insure fully-funded troops.

In fact, Obama had only two real choices (have we learned nothing from L.B. Johnson?): 1) To fight a a winnable war with masses of well-funded and fully supported troops or 2) to pull out the troops and compromise the already tenuous political integrity of that geographic region including Pakistan and its nuclear arsenal.

True to form, after months of self-indulgent dithering, Obama appears to have chosen neither. He'll trickle in the politically safest amount of troops (just enough to be able to say that they might be able to accomplish their mission), give himself "off-ramps" so he can judge the mood of the country as the deployment begins and the insurgents respond, and then hope for the best.

Will it work? I really do hope so. I have no wish for American dead and disabled, needless Afghan suffering, and a (further) destabilized Pakistan.

However, I fear that it will not. Tentative strategies have a very poor track record in annals of military history. Afghanistan was a very hard nut for the British Empire to crack and required a full commitment for their eventual victory. Plus, the KSM civilian trial suggests that the Obama Administration seems to view this whole thing as a "police action" a phrase that should be synonymous with military failure. That sort of thinking could impose unreasonable and dangerous restrictions onto both the men and women in the field and the military strategists.

Can the US win this war? Yes. Can Afghanistan become a stable country? Yes. Will either actually happen? Well, that depends on the political and financial sacrifice Obama and the Congressional Dems are willing to endure until the 2010 elections (when the problem will likely become a bipartisan one). It will cost money and it will cost American lives to really accomplish anything there. I see very little indication that the Dems are willing to compromise any of their grandiose and extremely expensive agendas for the Afghanistan cause.

I think the future looks rather dim for our presence in Afghanistan. It seems likely that we will be sacrificing further American lives for an unsupported cause in the very near future.

1 comment:

  1. If his heart is not in it, he will never be able to "sell" this decision to the public, especially his liberal base. And unless he does so, I'm afraid that he will quickly bail on Afghanistan when - NOT if - public opinion turns against the surge.

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