A blog on… Surprise! Afghanistan!

So… hopefully by now we all know that our President gave an important speech on Afghanistan, a country which is currently dominating speculation on his foreign policy.  As many analysts and politicians alike have noted, the President’s approach appears to be one of compromise and seeking the middle ground.  His rapid increase of 30,000 troops represents a number 10,000 less than that requested by General McChrystal, but still angers much of his Democratic base.  At the same time, he alienates his traditional opposition with the assertion of a set timetable, one which will be governed by benchmarks, but which will also apparently commence regardless of the situation on the ground.

            I find that there is far too much to discuss on this issue.  The idea of a timetable, the cost, the broadcasting of our long-term strategy, and the number of troops all lend could lend themselves to lengthy discussions.  So, I will instead discuss the politics of Obama’s decision.

            As much as I would like Obama’s Afghanistan decision to be removed from politics, we all know the reality is his decision is mired heavily in politics.  As I previously mentioned, his path of compromise successfully angered both sides, and leaves the President with few allies.  I am not sure if this is brilliant or insane.  If it works, the President will likely go down in history for his ability to critically analyze the situation and address it properly.  If it fails… well… both sides will say, “I told you so.”  (and of course the reality is, it will probably fall somewhere between complete victory and utter failure). 

            So did the President make the right decision to adopt a politically moderate approach, which each opposing side views as a strongly liberal or conservative approach?  I am wary that he did so.  Although I deeply appreciate his resolve to put forth a centrist stance, as it is more true to the way he portrayed himself in the election, I am wary that his intentions were overly political, and not sufficiently strategically focused. In part, I would like to discover that I am wrong, and to ultimately realize that Obama’s decision was based overwhelmingly on strategy.  But, in retrospect, I do not think this is a question which can truly be answered at this time, as we will likely fail to understand the President’s motives until we gain sufficient historical perspective.

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~ by aakort on December 2, 2009.

3 Responses to “A blog on… Surprise! Afghanistan!”

  1. Obviously this entire speech was a politcal strategy by Obama. It was a compromise. However, I do not think it was a compromise for the sake of the troops or our military. I think it was a compromise to keep Obama in a good light politcally. However, I think if Obama truly had the interest of our troops in mind, (or if he were more of a “maverick”-pardon the reference to McCain), he would increase the troop count to 50,00 or 60,000, crush the Taliban and get the hell out of there.
    But Obama is not a maverick. Obama is playing nice in a nasty war. Not very effective if you ask me.

  2. Although the speech, and therefore the strategy, may be strictly political in nature as you assert, it is important to note that there was not a request for 50,000 or 60,000 in order to “crush the Taliban and get the hell out of there.” Keep in mind that Obama already ordered many thousands more at the beginning of his term, and the recent additions will make his troop contributions to Iraq far more than double the amount there under the Bush administration. The top number that McChrystal knew would be politcally acceptable was 40,000 (yes, there was a third option of 80,000, but no one took it seriously), and he got the vast majority of that. Furthermore, 50,000 or 60,000 troops does not guarantee victory. It’s an overwhelming occupation. That amount would nearly double our current presence. The Afghan people would never accept such a surge (many top Afghan politicians and tribal leaders believe a surge is the incorrect strategy, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article), and they are the most vital component of successfully creating a legitimate Afghanistan regime. Also, 50,000 or 60,000 troops does NOT have the best interests of our troops in mind. They are already stretched thin, and overworked. Putting more of them in harm’s way would represent too much of a burden on our troops, our economy, and our nation. Such a proposal is politcally and stragically unfeasbile.

  3. I think we need to look at the root of concern of the issue. Are we concerned that Obama is choosing the number of troops due to politics? Or are we concerned that Obama did not supply the issue with enough armed men? I think we need to get our values and concerns straight. Political or not, we should be more concerned about the number of troops to get the job done, not the number of troops to fill a political agenda. I think that Obama is a smart man and he wouldn’t send a lack of troops and put them in harms way. I’m sure that there was reasoning behind his strategy. Sure he wants to look good politically, but I’m also confident that he is aware of the value of human life. I think that Americans are also caught up in the idea that now is the only time that he ca send troops. What if Obama wanted to send some more in a month or 2? we need to not be so quick to jump the gun, more troops can still be sent in the future. Why do they all have to be sent at once?

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