Wednesday evening Obama is due to announce that he will start to withdraw the 30,000 extra “surge” troops from Afghanistan.
This is not unexpected; what was surprising was that he sent them there in the first place. Public opinion is strongly against our involvement in Afghanistan; a recent poll notes support for partial or complete withdrawal at around 75%. Now that Osama Bin Laden has been killed (which, after all, was always part of our goal there) it gives Obama the perfect opportunity to begin a pullout. And if he continues to withdraw more troops, the timing will be good for the 2012 election.
Gates acknowledged Tuesday that domestic public opinion and congressional support for further military engagement must be taken into account by the president.
“Sustainability here at home” is an important consideration, Gates said. People are “tired of a decade of war.”
It had become difficult to justify our continued presence in Afghanistan at this point, although there may be a great deal we don’t know about what’s happening there—in fact, sometimes I think we know next to nothing about what’s happening there. Afghanistan is an especially opaque country, hard to understand and recalcitrant to change no matter what the intervention. And President Obama has been terrible in articulating why we are there—what our exact goals might be, and the definition of “success” (he virtually never uses the word “victory,” so I won’t use it here)—except, of course, for the aforementioned death of Bin Laden.
[NOTE: What do I mean by “the Nixon thing?” This.