This Is What A Commander-In-Chief Looks Like

The news today is that President Obama rejected all of the Afghanistan War strategies offered to him by his national security advisers, instead insisting that any plan have an endgame and an exit strategy:

President Barack Obama does not plan to accept any of the Afghanistan war options presented by his national security team, pushing instead for revisions to clarify how and when U.S. troops would turn over responsibility to the Afghan government, a senior administration official said Wednesday.

[…]

Administration officials said Wednesday that Obama wants to make it clear that the U.S. commitment in Afghanistan is not open-ended. The war is now in its ninth year and is claiming U.S. lives at a record pace as military leaders say the Taliban has the upper hand in many parts of the country.

[…]

Obama’s top military advisers have said they are comfortable with the pace of the process, and senior military officials have pointed out that the president still has time since no additional forces could begin flowing into Afghanistan until early next year.

Now that’s what a commander-in-chief really looks like–he’s consulting his advisers, soliciting a wide range of opinions and options, taking the time to learn the details of the current situation and insisting on a strategy on how to win the war and bring our troops home. President Obama is ensuring that, if more American soldiers have to be sent into harm’s way, they will have goals, strategies to achieve those goals and a firm endpoint to their commitment.

Always quick to score cheap political points, though, conservatives are accusing the President of “dithering” while our soldiers’ lives are in danger.

Ironically, the source of that ‘dithering’ talking point is none other than Dick Cheney. Even though conservatives want us all to forget the Bush-Cheney years, they were the ones who started this war, who bungled it and mismanaged it and finally walked away from it, leaving it for President Obama to resolve. If it hadn’t been for Bush-Cheney’s incompetence, for their dithering, President Obama wouldn’t have to implement a major strategic shift in Afghanistan.

This is just like what President Obama said a few weeks ago–the Republicans made a huge mess, and now that the Democrats have come along to fix it they’re complaining that we’re not holding the mop right. It’s callow political hypocrisy at its worst.

And while the ‘dithering’ talking point may sound nice, it has no foundation in reality–even if President Obama announced his strategy tomorrow the war would continue, American soldiers would still have to fight and some of them would still die. Like the above article said, a new strategy couldn’t be implemented until after the end of the year, giving Obama until January to make a decision.  As usual, conservatives  are just looking for an excuse to attack the President.

In the long run, fewer American soldiers will die if Obama takes the time to come up with a comprehensive strategy with an exit plan than if he just sends 40,000 more troops and hopes for the best.  It’s downright deplorable to send American troops into danger without figuring out what you want them to accomplish and how you want them to accomplish it first. Not only is it deplorable, it’s also ineffective–Republicans did just that in Afghanistan for 9 years and we have nothing to show for it but an increasingly unstable country with an increasing body count.

A true commander-in-chief weighs all the options and considers all the facts before coming up with a plan. That’s how you win a war and that’s why I have faith that President Obama will steer the United States toward victory in Afghanistan, GOP talking points be damned.

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