“This is a political decision, not a military decision....” - Damned Straight.
The cheers you heard last night were the Taliban getting exactly what they wanted from the President last night. They are more than happy to wait for things to go back to the way they were before the Surge pushed them to the brink....It will be a year before the 30000 extra leave but "Barry-From-Chicago" isn't worried about the economy or the terrorists, unless those issues can be used to bolster his re-election campaign....what a feckless POL.
Hopefully he'll be ousted and when we have to detail why we let the terrorists catch a break and allow them to return to their murderous ways, we'll owe the world an explaination on why we made decisions on the fate of this effort based solely on what POTUS hoped would help the empty-suit get relected....not based on what the military experts said we should do.
The people of Afghanistan have always feared we would only give this a half-hearted effort and then leave....It may be that their worst fears about the future of this place will be realized based on what the "Community Organizer" told the world last night.
To Obama, Afghan war no longer seems so smart
By: Glenn Thrush - Politico
June 22, 2011 11:16 PM EDT
If Afghanistan doesn’t fit President Barack Obama’s definition of a “dumb war” – his famous description of the conflict in Iraq — he’s no longer entirely confident it’s still a smart war worth blood, treasure or his own political capital.
In a primetime address Wednesday night announcing the withdrawal of 33,000 U.S.troops in the next year, Obama trumpeted the fulfillment of two goals first articulated nine years in the same Chicago speech in which he defined George W. Bush’s intervention in Iraq — killing Osama bin Laden and denying a safe haven to al Qaeda.
One additional achievement unmentioned in the 14-minute address: The role Obama’s Afghan surge played in bolstering his national security credentials at a time when Republicans portrayed him as just another weak Democratic president lacking the guts to wage war for a just cause.
But that just cause, in Obama’s view, is no longer reason enough for what had essentially become an open-ended U.S. commitment. So the president has opted for a faster-than-expected withdrawal timetable against the advice of senior military advisers, including Gen. David Petraeus.
“These long wars must come to a responsible end [and] we must learn from their lessons,” said Obama, articulating a more surgical approach to U.S. military intervention than he was able to describe during a speech on Libya earlier this year.
History will tell if the speech Wednesday night was a form of capitulation, a well-earned victory lap or combination of both.
Obama’s “dumb” vs. “smart” war meme, first outlined in his October, 2002 speech as an unknown state senator, didn’t seem to be far from his thoughts. Now as then, he made the argument for extricating the country from an unpopular war without losing political face — or bitterly-won gains against al Qaeda.
“We must chart a more centered course,” he said after announcing that 10,000 troops would be pulled out of Afghanistan by year’s end.
“We must embrace America’s singular role in the course of human events but we must also be as pragmatic as we are passionate, as strategic as we are resolute. When threatened we must respond with force – but when that force can be targeted, we need not deploy large armies overseas.”
Robert Kagan, a former adviser to his 2008 opponent John McCain, warned that a quick withdrawal threatens recent gains against the Taliban – and popular opinion could swing against the president if an emboldened enemy takes the speech as a cue to step up attacks.
“This is a political decision, not a military decision,” he told POLITICO. “Americans are tired of this war, that’s true. But they hate losing more, and if there’s the perception that we’re being run out of there, the public will turn on him fast.”
Stephen Hayes, a writer with the conservative Weekly Standard, summed up the view of many hawks when he told Fox News that Obama seemed to be “declaring” victory even though Afghanistan teeters on the verge of violent chaos.
“I think we’ve undercut a strategy that was working,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) warned. “Having all the surged forces leave by next summer is going to compromise next summer’s fighting season.”
Liberals, on the other hand, think the speed of the pull-out is too sluggish, with Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) expressing disappointment and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) telling MSNBC the 30,000 troops “ought to come home by the end of the year.”
Yet the politics of Afghanistan are scrambled and unpredictable, with many Republicans citing the fiscal strains of waging two full wars – and the House GOP threatening to pass legislation de-funding Obama’s controversial intervention in Libya.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) seemed skeptical but not overtly hostile to Obama’s speech. “Congress will hold the administration accountable for ensuring that the pace and scope of the drawdown does not undermine the progress we’ve made thus far,” he said in a statement.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) didn’t reject the plan out of hand either, focusing on the need for the White House to adjust their timetable according to conditions on the ground.
“The drawdown of forces described by the president needs to be conducted in a manner that respects the professional judgment of our military commanders, preserves the security gains of the last year and allows for a slower pace of withdrawal if necessary,” McConnell said.
In the hours leading up to the address, Obama’s staff emphasized a triumph without triumphalism.
Yet it was hard to mistake Obama’s valedictory tone, despite his acknowledgement that the gains in Afghanistan could be fleeting and that “dark days” of fighting remained prior to a larger pull-out in 2014.
“Mission Accomplished” it wasn’t – the best Obama offered was “The tide of war is receding.” But he mentioned the killing of Bin Laden no fewer than six times while praising the surge and he began with an explanation of his decision to transfer military resources from Iraq to Afghanistan.
Obama aides emphasized that “Operation Enduring Freedom,” which has cost the lives of more than 1,600 Americans over the last decade, has finally achieved many of its objectives under his stewardship. With the terror threat migrating to Yemen and Pakistan, they declared that the smart war simply doesn’t look quite so smart anymore.
“On the threat side, we haven’t seen a terrorist threat emanating from Afghanistan for the past seven or eight years,” a senior national security official told reporters.
“There has been clearly fighting and threats inside of Afghanistan,” the person said, adding that that there is “no indication at all that there is any effort within Afghanistan to use Afghanistan as a launching pad to carry out attacks outside of Afghan borders.”
Smart, dumb or otherwise, Afghanistan remains an easily forgettable, if not altogether forgotten war. And Obama’s speech didn’t seem to attract the attention of previous addresses he’s delivered.
Of the three broadcast networks, only one – CBS – led with the Obama speech on their evening news shows. ABC and NBC both featured the floods in North Dakota at the top of their broadcasts.
That reflected a larger focus, adopted by Obama himself, on tending to the country’s internal affairs, especially the economy, and pulling back from the international entanglements of the Bush years.
“We have spent a trillion dollars on war, at a time of rising debt and hard economic times,” Obama said. The president acknowledged the popular frustration with seeing schools and roads built abroad at American expense while an atmosphere of fiscal austerity reigns in the U.S.
“America, it is time to focus on nation-building here at home,” Obama declared.
Under Obama’s plan, roughly 68,000 U.S. troops would remain in Afghanistan by late next year — about twice as many as were in the country when he took office. He vowed to continue to withdraw troops “at a steady pace,” though he offered no further details on the timetable.
“This is the beginning – but not the end – of our effort to wind down this war,” he said. “We will have to do the hard work of keeping the gains that we have made, while we drawdown our forces and transition responsibility for security to the Afghan government.”