A man, no plan, a war, Afghanistan.
According to McClatchy, some members of McChrystal’s staff said they don’t understand why Obama called Afghanistan a “war of necessity” but still hasn’t given them the resources they need to do what is necessary.
Good question. We should all be asking the same thing.
Amir Taheri devotes a NY Post column to it, in a piece entitled: “Obama’s plan? What plan?”
The subtitle of Taneri’s column is “Despite his claims, the president has no Afghan strategy.” Taheri goes on to say that Obama repeatedly promised during his campaign that:
…he’d unveil a new “stronger, smarter and comprehensive [Afghan war] strategy.”
In March, in one of those solemn-looking occasions in which he excels, Obama said that the new strategy, which he did not elaborate, was already in place. He speeded up the troop buildup ordered by the Bush administration, and a few weeks later named a new commander for Afghanistan.
That commander, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, lost no time in revealing that the Obama administration had no specific strategy and that his first task was to work one out. By the end of August, he’d drafted a “new strategy” and submitted it to the Pentagon in the form of a 66-page report that included specific steps for moving ahead, as well as a request for still more troops.
Then, nothing happened — until someone leaked the report.
One can only imagine the general’s surprise when President Obama, asked to comment on the leaked report, said he wouldn’t allow himself to be rushed into sending more troops, as requested by McChrystal, pending the development of a “new strategy.”
One might say, Wait a minute! We thought you had a strategy before you were elected, when you castigated Bush’s performance in Afghanistan — or at least in March, when you announced “the new, smarter strategy,” or in June, when you appointed a commander to “carry out the new strategy.”
What of McChrystal’s proposed “new strategy” spelled out in his report? No, the president says he’s still looking for a strategy.
I submit that Obama has a strategy. It’s just not the one listeners might have thought he meant when he made all those declarations about winning the war—which even at the time they were made should have been seen as what they obviously were: so much campaign puffery.
What is this strategy? It’s one Obama uses for many issues, not just Afghanistan. It goes something like this:
(1) say whatever you think will get you votes, even if you don’t mean it
(2) do something opposite when the original stance becomes politically inexpedient and/or unecessary
(3) don’t acknowledge the contradiction or even attempt to explain it
(4) if somehow you are forced to break rule three and acknowledge your reversal, blame it on someone else—preferably George Bush, Republicans in general, and/or those crazy Tea Party attendees.
[ADDENDUM: The wrongness and inconsistency in Obama’s Afghan policy was all quite clear back in July of 2008, when I wrote this post.
And don’t forget that Obama could not have been more incorrect about the surge, not only at the very beginning but repeatedly, even after it had clearly succeeded. How could anyone—even a liberal Democrat—have faith in his judgment on military matters?]