September 22nd, 2009

Obama: confused about Afghanistan?

I don’t think he is (at least not in the way you’d imagine). But Leslie Gelb does:

I’m lost on President Barack Obama’s Afghanistan policy—along with most of Congress and the U.S. military. Not quite eight months ago, Mr. Obama pledged to “defeat” al Qaeda in Afghanistan by transforming that country’s political and economic infrastructure, training Afghan forces and adding 21,000 U.S. forces for starters…And a mere three weeks ago, he punctuated his commitments by proclaiming that Afghanistan is a “war of necessity,” not one of choice. White House spokesmen reinforced this by promising that the president would “fully resource” the war.

Yet less than one week ago, Mr. Obama said the following about troop increases: “I’m going to take a very deliberate process in making those decisions. There is no immediate decision pending on resources, because one of the things that I’m absolutely clear about is you have to get the strategy right and then make a determination about resources.” He repeated that on Sunday’s talk shows.

Are we now to understand that he made all those previous declarations and decisions without a strategy he was committed to?

The answer is: it depends on what the meaning of “strategy” is. Gelb is confused because he still thinks of Obama in conventional terms, of “strategy” as an effort to win the war, and of previous Obama statements as rationally connected in the ordinary way to new ones.

I see it differently. I think Obama committed to Afghanistan as a strategy to look tough in the election, and is now looking for a way out that doesn’t make him look weak. In the meantime, he’s stalling.

He would have liked victory to be easy there because it would have been a feather in his cap and a defense against those who say he isn’t interested in fighting terrorism. But since it’s not, he has no desire to stay the course, and he couldn’t care less about the geopolitical repercussions for America.

And I’d be happy to be proven wrong about this.

28 Responses to “Obama: confused about Afghanistan?”

  1. vanderleun Says:

    He has always planned to lose in Afghanistan. He just needs a slightly higher body count and a bit more ennui on the part of the populace to succeed.

  2. gcotharn Says:

    If he would have liked victory to be easy there, it’s b/c he was ignorant enough to think victory could be easy there.

    Did he think victory would be easy in Afghan? I’m SICK of not knowing what this jerk believes; what this jerk is willing to stand for. His words mean less than nothing. Barack is cotton candy in every way.

  3. Assistant Village Idiot Says:

    Like most people of the left, his interest in foreign affairs is confined to their impact in elections here. Obama is uncertain because he doesn’t know what would be better for his cause and himself in 2010 and 2012. Once that’s clear, he will be decisive.

    What it all means for America, for Afghanistan, for Iraq, for our interactions with other countries – those are secondary.

  4. RBarr Says:

    “I’m going to take a very deliberate process in making those decisions. There is no immediate decision pending on resources, because one of the things that I’m absolutely clear about is you have to get the strategy right and then make a determination about resources.”

    Does anyone else see how this could/should translate to domestic policy. If only he would be consistent. (and I don’t mean consistently wrong)

  5. huxley Says:

    I think Obama committed to Afghanistan as a strategy to look tough in the election, and is now looking for a way out that doesn’t make him look weak. In the meantime, he’s stalling.

    neo: I agree with your read.

    An additional problem for Obama is that his stalling for time, so he can find a way out that doesn’t make him look weak, makes him look weak.

  6. br549 Says:

    Do you think he ever gave much thought to the idea that he would have to deal with those outside this nation when he was in campaign mode? I am beginning to doubt it. He certainly never gave it much thought, and certainly doesn’t seem to have planned for it.

    All his czars seem to be picked. 33 at last count, right? But how many unfilled slots remain in his cabinet, etc.?

  7. Mr. Frank Says:

    All of Obama’s statements come with an expiration date.

  8. Gray Says:

    Per my previous comment:

    Which decision will cause the most misery for the most people, betray the fallen, shame the US, make a future attacks more probably and destroy the hopes of the Islamic moderates?

    After considerable delay, he will withold the 41K troops and piecemeal in a few thousand troops for “humanitarian reasons”.

    This will increase human misery and harm, therefore, that is what he will do.

  9. Baklava Says:

    You are good Gray

    It works with climate change
    http://hotair.com/archives/2009/09/22/video-obama-claims-the-us-did-nothing-on-emissions-before-2009/

    While Obama uses words to blame people and the past vaguely, he implements policies that cause the most human misery and harm – and that is what he will do.

    Meanwhile – Democrats have taken more money from Insurance companies than Republicans

    http://sayanythingblog.com/entry/shocker_democrats_have_taken_more_money_from_the_insurance_industry_than_re/

  10. Gray Says:

    Oh, this is good.

    Go to Micheal Yon, read the .PDF and get smarter on Afghan strategy, policy and troop levels than the administration:

    http://www.michaelyon-online.com/michael-s-dispatches/

  11. Gray Says:

    Meh…. After reading that assessment thorougly, I just realized that until the US is willing to confiscate the poppy and sell it ourselves as the Opium Lords, we have no hope of securing the country and preventing taliban rule.

    If we confiscated the opium harvest and only allowed those who passed background checks to sell it, the taliban would be sunk and we could fund reconstruction projects out the wazoo on Europe’s insatiable desire for Heroin. Perfect.

    Solved. Of course we will never do it; we are far, far too nice.

  12. Dan Smith Says:

    Chairman Zero is moving along the timetable I expected. As soon as casualties picked up and once some elections were held his left wing began to pressure him to fold. We are witnessing the beginning of the end. Any Afghani who worked for the Americans had better pack now, because the Taliban will soak the earth with their blood, just as the North Vietnamese did with “collaborators” after 1975.

  13. Oblio Says:

    Only confused about the way to vote “Present” again.

  14. Brian Swisher Says:

    Not confiscate the opium harvest, Gray. Buy it. No use making more enemies than is absolutely necessary…

  15. Gray Says:

    Not confiscate the opium harvest, Gray. Buy it. No use making more enemies than is absolutely necessary…

    No. Then you’ll be funding the taliban as usual. And once you buy it, you are responsible for selling it to the brokers/etc to get the foreign money into Afghanistan. We don’t want to be a crappy middle-man in the opium trade, we want to control the money and opium.

    If you confiscate it and only allow the anti-taliban villages/tribes their share of opium back to sell it, you can trace the money and influence and starve the taliban out. Let them sell it in their time-honored markets without interference, but we control the poppy.

    We need to buy influence, not poppies.

  16. Perfected democrat Says:

    Don’t under estimate how much damage a two-bit radical left-wing, half-white, closet-moslem communist ivy league lawyer, the Democrat’s very own race baiting manchurian candidate, their half black token ticket after 20 decades of largely racist betrayal of American black culture; now back into control of the executive branch, and just how much damage he actually can do while he’s having fantasies that he’s playing 3-d chess on three different continents simultaneously; and somehow it’s not just a dream, he really is the Commander in Chief, the grand POTUS himself… By coincidence this week I start a little five session class reading and exploring Cervante’s Don Quixote, and am realizing that now four centuries later he seems to have returned (keep in mind I’ve only read 60 pages, and don’t know how the real Don ends up, yet) as Obungler the Great Community Organizer himself; the errant knight, politician and giant killer has returned to do battle against no small evil adversaries, but none other than the most evil capitalist inspired creation of all time, the hot air of climate change, with his right hand, while juggling the international jihad, simultaneously, with his left-hand; not to worry about Afghanistan, we’re in well qualified hands now, as he performs his prestidigous magic selling us the one completely safe oil there’s still plenty of to go around, snake oil…

  17. strcpy Says:

    “Obama is uncertain because he doesn’t know what would be better for his cause and himself in 2010 and 2012. Once that’s clear, he will be decisive.”

    I think you are 100% correct here. For him to want many of the scenarios outlined he has to care, I do not think he does one way or another. As such sit on it until he has to make a choice.

    I think he is so focused on domestic issues – health care, cap and trade, bailouts (also known as govt takeovers of large parts of the economy) – that Afghanistan isn’t even really on his radar. It was a nice campaigning tool to seem like some type of hawk, but now? Not so much. Taking a stand means that you take some amount of liability if there is failure, not taking a stand (at least for a little bit longer) means you can still somewhat blame it on bush for failure and yet take credit for success.

    As of right now the Status Quo is his best answer. Not enough deaths (or rather not enough coverage of them) to be detrimental and having that conflict/war drag on means domestic jobs and money that he really can not afford to loose. Were I cynical enough (and I’m on the line here – I’m more inclined that he just doesn’t care one way or the other) those being killed and those that care about them are most likely conservatives and not part of his grand domestic policy anyway.

    It is the LBJ years with Vietnam again – sacrifice those lives for political gain and hope you can pen it on Republicans. While it may have cost them the election of Nixon in short term, in the long term they won that war and expect to again. How many still call it “Nixon’s War” even if you take take a heavily biased look at how LBJ handled it.

    Of the reasons I ended up on the political side I do was the utter confusion reconciling what I had been taught in school with the data they used to come to that conclusion.

    Afghanistan will be that again IMO as they seek to trade GI’s life’s for jobs they can not politically afford to lose and seek to blame it on their opposition party. The internet and things like the Tea Party’s will see to it being forced as an issue.

    Obama (or his handlers) just can’t figure out how to do that yet. Sadly I would personally rank that type of thinking lower than intentionally screwing things as many are proposing. At the least if they are seeking to impose a socialist govt though enforcing failure they are doing so because they think it is the best path, in this case it is all of us be damned for their power and money.

  18. Gray Says:

    Afghanistan will be that again IMO as they seek to trade GI’s life’s for jobs they can not politically afford to lose and seek to blame it on their opposition party.

    That’s some excellent analysis.

    Obama (or his handlers) just can’t figure out how to do that yet. Sadly I would personally rank that type of thinking lower than intentionally screwing things as many are proposing.

    True that…. But I don’t think he’s intentionally screwing things up. He’s just their agent of change; of destruction. Personally, he’s f’ed up everything he has ever touched. It’s his handlers who have the twisted agenda.

    It’s terrifying.

  19. Gray Says:

    “Firearms and Ammunition See Explosive Sales”

    http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20090921-703882.html

    Hmmmm…. Some say that animals can instinctively sense an earthquake or a storm coming. I think reports showed that very few were caught in the Thailand tsunami.

  20. Brian Swisher Says:

    The Taliban don’t grow the opium, Gray; they don’t know how to. They buy it from the farmers, who will sell it to anyone who has the money. It’s the resale of opium where the Taliban makes its money. If we buy from the farmers, we can cut the Taliban from their source of revenue…then we could destroy it, sell it to pharmaceutical companies, or put it in a warehouse with the Ark of the Covenant, so long as we remove it from the Central Asian trade loop…

  21. Army Mom Says:

    All I can think of is that because of O and the Democraps waffleing, they are making our troops less safe. They are playing a game with lives that They will regret. There are 2 options that O and the Democraps has…1)commit to winning or 2)get out. If they pull us out, it will be on their head to have lost that way. We never should have put an inexperienced ideolog in office.

    After going to Iraq & Afghanistan already, my son will soon be re-deployed back to Afghanistan. Should O and the Democraps crap for decision making cause harm to come to my son….I can tell you that Cindy Sheehan will look like a walk in the park compared to my wrath.

    At least Bush, despite all his faults, was fully committed to protecting us and taking care to not undermine the military. Does O and the Democraps scare me?? Yes. Unfortunately, when I get scared I also get fighting mad.

  22. Fred2 Says:

    Try the optimistic approach:

    Maybe the resources currently involved in Afghanistan and Pakistan will be required for the invasion of Iran.

    Which is more dangerous, Iran or al-Queda?

  23. huxley Says:

    All I can think of is that because of O and the Democraps waffleing, they are making our troops less safe. They are playing a game with lives that They will regret. There are 2 options that O and the Democraps has…1)commit to winning or 2)get out. If they pull us out, it will be on their head to have lost that way.

    Army Mom: Exactly. I agree that Afghanistan is important, but if Obama and the Dems are just going to mince around with half-hearted efforts so that we eventually lose Afghanistan anyway and get a whole lot of our soldiers killed, I say leave now.

  24. Gray Says:

    Taliban from their source of revenue…then we could destroy it, sell it to pharmaceutical companies, or put it in a warehouse with the Ark of the Covenant, so long as we remove it from the Central Asian trade loop…

    And Afghanistan starves and must rely on the Taliban and the radical muslim “charities” to feed them, giving the Taliban total control.

    Until we control the poppies, we cannot control the ground in Afghanistan and we are too nice to do it….

  25. Ymarsakar Says:

    While all this is happening, men and women, some of the best of America, are being chewed up in the Afghan meat grinder. And for what? To make the Democrats a more convenient time to get off the chair?

    Dems love military casualties in war, especially if they are American.

  26. Brian Swisher Says:

    Gray, I think we’re somehow talking at cross-purposes…we both clearly agree that opium sales are a problem, but disagree on the best way to go about it…IMO, buying the crops from the ground-level producers provides them with income and denies it to the Taliban – the opposite of the scenario you note in your last posting…I apologize if I haven’t expressed myself clearly enough in my previous postings…

  27. Brian Swisher Says:

    …and when I said, “the best way to go about it,” I meant to go about tackling the problem of opium money getting to the Taliban…I’ve gotta watch out for shorthanding my thoughts…

  28. Gray Says:

    buying the crops from the ground-level producers provides them with income and denies it to the Taliban

    1) Why not just burn the fields and put the entire country on welfare? That is what you are advocating.

    2) Do you know what will happen to Europe when they can’t get their heroin?

    I don’t agree that opium sales are the problem. The problem is who is selling the opium. I want to help “our guys” to sell the opium and starve out the taliban. It’s unconventional, it would be successful, but it is dirty and we will never do it….

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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