In the formulation of his Afghanistan strategy, President Barack Obama has had to perform a delicate balancing act. The left thinks Obama should withdraw all troops from Afghanistan. The right thinks he should fight to win.
President Obama’s plan, which involves sending thirty thousand more troops to Afghanistan while talking about an “exit strategy,” appears to have entirely satisfied no one. The left has come to the conclusion that Obama is simply “Bush Lite” which it comes to waging the war on error. The right thinks President Obama combines within him the worst qualities of Jimmy Carter and Lyndon Johnson.
Typical of the reaction of the left, filmmaker Michael Moore published an “open letter” on his web site that pretty much begs President Obama to execute a Vietnam style bug out of Afghanistan, leaving the Afghans to the tender mercies of the Taliban and Al Qaeda.
“Do you really want to be the new “war president”? If you go to West Point tomorrow night (Tuesday, 8pm) and announce that you are increasing, rather than withdrawing, the troops in Afghanistan, you are the new war president. Pure and simple. And with that you will do the worst possible thing you could do — destroy the hopes and dreams so many millions have placed in you. With just one speech tomorrow night you will turn a multitude of young people who were the backbone of your campaign into disillusioned cynics. You will teach them what they’ve always heard is true — that all politicians are alike. I simply can’t believe you’re about to do what they say you are going to do. Please say it isn’t so.”
The anti war left is incensed at President Obama for apparently preparing to launch a sort of surge in Afghanistan. But such people were apparently not paying attention when candidate Obama was bloviating about Afghanistan being “the good war” (as opposed to Iraq, the “bad war.”) Iraq is pretty much won, while Afghanistan is in greater peril as President Obama dithered for months about what to do about it. Obama cannot have a defeat in Afghanistan on his watch. Besides the obvious peril that having Al Qaeda recapture its base of operations means, such a defeat would end the Obama Presidency. The best Obama can do is to blame the whole mess on President George W. Bush and hope that will quiet his left wing critics.
Meanwhile, the right, which would seem to support a strategy of a surge in Afghanistan, is not exactly happy. Former Vice President Dick Cheney, in an interview with Politico, unloaded on President Obama.
“‘I begin to get nervous when I see the commander in chief making decisions apparently for what I would describe as small ‘p’ political reasons, where he’s trying to balance off different competing groups in society,’ Cheney said.
“‘Every time he delays, defers, debates, changes his position, it begins to raise questions: Is the commander in chief really behind what they’ve been asked to do?'”
The problem, Dick Cheney suggests, is that talk of “exit strategies” projects weakness and uncertainty, emboldening the enemy who would conclude that all they have to do is wait and survive until the Americans are gone in order to win.
There seems to be some confusion involving the “exit strategy.” CNN is reporting that President Obama plans to have American troops out in three years. But the White House has also suggested that the timetable is contingent on conditions on the ground.
Add to that confusion over exactly how many troops are going-30,000, 34,000, or whatever-plus uncertainly over if and how many NATO troops will also be added, and the picture of a very confused commander in chief begins to take place. No wonder Michael Moore and Dick Cheney agree that Obama’s Afghanistan strategy is dangerous and wrong-headed, albeit for different reasons.
Sources: An Open Letter to President Obama from Michael Moore, Michael Moore, November 30th, 2009
Dick Cheney slams President Obama for projecting ‘weakness’,Mike Allen and Jim Vandehei, Politico, December 1st, 2009
CNN: Obama wants most U.S. troops out of Afghanistan in three years, Or Does He?, Allahpundit, Hot Air, December 1st, 2009