The Plan for Afghanistan
Tonight I will be watching President Obama’s speech on his decision to increase the number of American troops in Afghanistan. During the presidential campaign, Obama did such an effective job of portraying the Iraq War as a costly diversion from America’s need to confront the true nexus of the War on Terror in Afghanistan, that I don’t really see how he could have decided otherwise on the troop increase only a year into his presidency and still maintain his credibility.
I have been fascinated (and a little surprised) by how quickly progressives have abandoned Obama on this issue. Perhaps they thought his campaign discourse on Afghanistan was strategic electoral posturing, and that he would instead quickly draw down the conflict once in office. It is true that it has been a tough year over there, in terms of lives lost, money spent, and visible progress on the ground. But this decision strikes me as in keeping with everything Obama said out on the campaign trail.
So, Obama will once again try to thread the needle tonight, by presenting a justification for the troop increase, while also detailing clear benchmarks for continued U.S. support and an exit strategy with a short time horizon. Republicans have been generally supportive of the decision, so I will be especially interested to gauge Democratic (and progressive) reaction to the plan.


Posted On: 12-01-2009 17:14:47 by Jim Splaine
Many progressives, including myself if I rank that way, haven't "abandoned" President Obama on this issue. Many of us weren't in favor of the action in Afghanistan in the first place, but voted for Barack Obama for a number of reasons despite his stated position. Many of us either remember, or have read the history of, Vietnam -- of which Afghanistan reminds us dearly. We need to get out, no matter who happens to be President.

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