…while Obamalet dithers.
What the US military wants is clear. General Stanley McChrystal, the US commander in Afghanistan, has called for up to 40,000 more troops…
So far Obama has only made it clear that he doesn’t intend to withdraw any troops and that he hasn’t decided yet whether to add more soldiers. But this smells more like a lazy compromise than a clear statement of intent…
Obama’s silence stands in contrast with the impassioned rhetoric that carried him into the White House. He risks squandering the biggest advantage of his term in office: the serious attempt to make an honest assessment of his predecessor’s legacy [sic]. It also represented a great opportunity to restructure the Atlantic alliance. But why should countries like Germany and France believe the verbose promises of a president who is not even sending a clear message at home, even though he has a majority in both houses of Congress?
There is no doubt that hardly a day passes in Europe without criticism of US policy. This has become a trans-Atlantic ritual. But despite this ritual, Europeans are still looking for one thing from the White House: leadership.
Once again, we see that odd reversal we first noticed when Sarkozy criticized Obama’s Iran policy: Europe begging an American president to show some spine.
One can almost smell the whiff of fear across the Atlantic at the dawning realization that Obama is exactly what the despised Right said he was: an empty suit, whose flowery and uplifting rhetoric consisted of mere empty words to match it. Europeans are finding that, although they chafed at the previous leadership (much as children do towards firm parents), now that they are leaderless they’re feeling more than a bit nostalgic for those olden days (Dad wasn’t so bad after all, now that he’s gone and you’re on your own).
A rudderless free world might not remain free for very long.
To surge, or not to surge: that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous battles,
Or put down arms against a sea of troubles,
And by withdrawing end them? To retreat: to fight
No more; and by retreat to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, ’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d. To retreat, to leave;
To leave: perchance to lose: ay, there’s the rub;
For in that leaving, what defeat may come
When we have shuffled off this Afghan soil,
Must give us pause: there’s the respect
That makes calamity of a long war;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of polls,
The oppressor’s wrong, the talking head’s contumely,
The pangs of pacifists, the law’s delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his swift exit make
With a curt order? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary war,
But that the dread that some would cry “defeat,”
That vicious accusation from whose bourn
No politician returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action. – Soft you now!
The fair Nobel Committee! Wimps, in thy orisons
Be all my sins forgotten.]
[ADDENDUM: Krauthammer reflects.]