Dec 2, 2009

Obama, America and Afghanistan

Joel C. RosenbergBy Joel C. Rosenberg

After months of hemming, hawing, indecision, and in-fighting within the White House, President Obama finally laid out his Afghanistan policy last night. There was good news, and bad.

Good news:

  • The President recognized the vital national interest the U.S. has in defeating the Taliban, al Qaeda and the forces of Radical Islam in Afghanistan and along the Pakistani border, and committed the U.S. to winning this critical war.

  • The President endorsed the very “surge” strategy in Afghanistan that he so vehemently opposed in Iraq. He is putting an additional 30,000 U.S. troops into the theater, effectively doubling our troop strength there.

  • The President firmly backed the policy recommended by Gen. David Petraeus and Gen. Stanley McChrystal, two men I believe could truly win this war for us if they are fully supported and unleashed to get the job done right and well.

  • The President sent our enemies, our allies — and notably Iran — a message that he won’t cut and run from protecting American national interests in the battle with Radical Islam.

  • In sharp contrast to his presidential campaign rhetoric, Mr. Obama chose to become a “war president” – a good thing in a war — against intense opposition from his left-wing political base.
Bad news:
  • The President undermined the full strength of his new policy by setting an artificial deadline of bringing the troops home beginning 18 months from now, in July 2011. This doesn’t give reassurance to American families that the war will truly be won by then. Rather, it gives the Taliban and al Qaeda fighters reassurance that they can outlast the Americans and live to terrorize another day.

  • The President committed only 30,000 new troops, when McChrystal requested 40,000. Why give go only 75% of the way?

  • The White House is suggesting that perhaps NATO will provide another 10,000 troops. That would be nice. But I’m not holding my breathe.
Bottom Line:

This is a war we have to win. I have been to Afghanistan. I have seen how badly we were doing and have talked to Afghan tribal leaders who were deeply disappointed by the lack of full American resolve to defeat the Radicals. So I am grateful to the Lord that President Obama has committed his administration and our nation to doing more to win. I have many deep disagreements with this President, but I expected him to cut and run from Afghanistan, and he didn’t. He’s making a mistake to set an artificial deadline to withdraw our troops. But he has backed the very “surge” policy he detested in Iraq but which ultimately proved the right decision. This is a good thing, and we should give him — and most importantly our troops — our full support.

Related Links

The New Way Forward - The President's Address - The White House Blog
Success Hinges on Strength of Afghan Leader - Wall Street Journal
Barack Obama's war: the final push in Afghanistan -
Obama's Afghanistan speech: How it sounded to Afghans - Christian Science Monitor
Inside the Revolution - Joel C. Rosenberg (Book)