Wednesday, December 2, 2009


I know that there were not a lot of good options that were present to President Obama concerning Afghanistan and the course we should pursue there. One of the options that I pretty sure were never put on the table for discussion was complete and immediate withdrawal of all of our troops. What is most disappointing is the way that the president is embracing the Bush doctrine; it may not be a full-on, twenty second, bromance kind of hug. It's more like an awkward, uncomfortable embrace with your aging great-aunt who smells funny, but it's an embrace, none the less. Tuesday's night's speech was probably the most un-inspiring, flat, lifeless speech that I've ever heard President Obama deliver. I would like to think that his heart wasn't really in it and that deep down inside that he didn't really agree with the orders our military are about to carry out. I don't know if this decision is the product of pressure being exerted by the pentagon and our military leaders. If so, this decision flies in the face of George Washington's ideal of a civilian commanding our military; the armed forces are supposed to answer to the president, not the other way around.

What really would be immensely disappointing is the idea that this decision was made to give political cover to the Democratic party in the upcoming elections in 2010 and 2012. If the president were to order a complete withdrawal of our forces from Afghanistan to begin immediately, the Democratic party would be vulnerable politically. The GOP would portray us as soft on terror, unwilling to make the hard decisions to keep America safe, unwilling to listen to the advice of our military's generals, etc. I am not ready or willing to embrace this idea. I do not think that President Obama, while a shrewd and polished politician is willing to sacrifice the lives of young American men and women and add billions upon billions of dollars to the deficit for sheer political gain. My cynicism hasn't plunged to that depth yet.

One thing I must say though is that while I am disappointed with this decision, I am not at all surprised. I am very much a liberal and Obama was not my choice for president during the primaries. The two candidates who I was most willing to vote for were Joe Biden and Chris Dodd. They had both dropped out of the race when we were voting the primaries in Connecticut. I voted for Hillary Clinton. Obama, I thought was always too much of a centrist; he's not really a liberal. He always said he would, as president, defeat al Qaeda and give the war in Afghanistan the attention it deserved, that this was the region that should be our focus in the war on terror and not Iraq. So while I do not feel that this is the decision that the president should have come to in his deliberation on the situation in Afghanistan, and by proxy Pakistan, I cannot say that I didn't see it coming. And I still voted for him, in spite of this fact. He was a much better choice than Senator McCain - I cannot and don't want to imagine the mess the country would be in if Barack Obama had not been elected. I hope that we stick with the withdrawal schedule the president has come up with for 2011. It's not as soon as I'd like to see the troops come home, but if we stick with that timetable, hopefully the cost of this war, in both monetary and human cost, will not be too high.

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