I’ve been pretty critical of President Obama’s foreign policy, so I think it only fair that I comment publicly and say that I applaud him for making sort of the right decision in Afghanistan.
Obama has responded with much of what McChrystal requested. Good for him for listening to good advice.
I’m not particularly troubled by the obviously election-driven timetable that Obama set for troop draw-down. That was to be expected. Obama is bucking his base on this issue and he had to give them something. What happens in 2011 will be governed by political considerations that we can’t accurately forecast–and by the situation in Afghanistan. If things are going well, Obama will be able to begin a troop draw-down and claim (and justly so) massive credit for the accomplishment. I’ll give him credit for that victory–just as he honestly gives the previous administration credit… oh… wait… well, I’ll still give credit where credit is due.
If the situation in Afghanistan worsens, however… then Obama will likely be even harder pressed than he is now. If he begins a troop draw-down amid mounting losses and the American public perceives that as retreat, he’ll be pulverized for sacrificing national security on the altar of political expediency. If things are bad and he commits additional troops, he’ll be pulverized for sacrificing the interests of his political base. So, let’s hope things go well!
I do have to comment on the most appalling piece of political… ooze… in his speech. That’s where he speaks about costs and deficits,
All told, by the time I took office the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan approached a trillion dollars. Going forward, I am committed to addressing these costs openly and honestly. Our new approach in Afghanistan is likely to cost us roughly $30 billion for the military this year, and I’ll work closely with Congress to address these costs as we work to bring down our deficit.
His response? To add an additional $1 trillion in deficit spending. In six months he exceeded the cumulative cost both wars by pushing stimulus programs rife with graft, waste, and moral hazard. He’ll work with Congress to bring down our deficit? Bullshit. He’s pressing hard for a health-care bill which will increase the Federal deficit by yet another $1 trillion dollars.
His own words,
I make this decision [to send additional troops to Afghanistan] because I am convinced that our security is at stake in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This is the epicenter of violent extremism practiced by al Qaeda. It is from here that we were attacked on 9/11, and it is from here that new attacks are being plotted as I speak. This is no idle danger; no hypothetical threat. In the last few months alone, we have apprehended extremists within our borders who were sent here from the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan to commit new acts of terror. And this danger will only grow if the region slides backwards, and al Qaeda can operate with impunity. We must keep the pressure on al Qaeda, and to do that, we must increase the stability and capacity of our partners in the region.
And then he dithers about $30 billion? That’s less than half of what he spent propping up GM and Chrysler for less than a year.
So, yes, I applaud his decision to send the troops. But I deplore the rediculous pretension that he is even the least bit interested in fiscal responsibility. I am also deeply worried that he will use his own profligate spending as an excuse for why he cannot fully support the troops he has committed.