Thinking about President Obama’s Afghanistan escalation, I’m not sure it can work. I’m not sure that years of Bush’s neglect and mismanagement can be reversed at this point. It’s possible that Afghanistan is so corrupt and divided by now that no military or diplomatic maneuvers by the United States can fix it.
I vehemently opposed the surge in Iraq, for a variety of reasons. Iraq was a highly-unstable country deeply divided along sectarian lines; the war there had nothing to do with 9/11 and wasn’t intrinsically linked to our national security; the enemy there lacked the means to attack the United States; escalation threatened to further strengthen Iran.
Afghanistan is different. Even though they are divided and violent, they are far less so than Iraq was overall; Afghanistan had everything to do with 9/11; eliminating violent extremism there is directly related to—and beneficial for—the national security of the United States; I don’t think I need to make the case that the enemy in Afghanistan does pose the ability to harm the United States; failure in Afghanistan would pose to destabilize nuclear Pakistan.
You can watch live video of the President’s speech here.
The full text of the President’s remarks is below the fold:
Details of the President’s Afghanistan strategy are emerging ahead of his primetime speech at West Point tonight:
President Barack Obama plans to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan over six months, an accelerated timetable – with an endgame built in – that would have the first Marines there as early as Christmas, a senior administration official told The Associated Press.
With the full complement of new troops expected to be in Afghanistan by next summer, the heightened pace of Obama’s military deployment in the 8-year-old war appears to mimic the 2007 troop surge in Iraq, a 20,000-strong force addition under former President George W. Bush. Similar in strategy to that mission, Obama’s Afghan surge aims to reverse gains by Taliban insurgents and to secure population centers in the volatile south and east parts of the country.
According to Jacob Weisberg:
[The] conventional wisdom about Obama’s first year isn’t just premature—it’s sure to be flipped on its head by the anniversary of his inauguration on Jan. 20. If, as seems increasingly likely, Obama wins passage of a health care reform a bill by that date, he will deliver his first State of the Union address having accomplished more than any other postwar American president at a comparable point in his presidency. This isn’t an ideological point or one that depends on agreement with his policies. It’s a neutral assessment of his emerging record—how many big, transformational things Obama is likely to have made happen in his first 12 months in office.
Gallup crunched the numbers and found that President Obama’s historic Nobel Peace Prize win has, unsurprisingly, improved his standing among the American people:
Barack Obama appears to have gotten a slight bounce in support after he was announced as the Nobel Peace Prize winner on Friday. His 56% job approval rating for the last two Gallup Daily tracking updates is up from a term-low 50% as recently as last week, and 53% in the three days before the Nobel winner was announced.
The positive momentum in Obama’s approval rating is a departure from recent months, as his support has generally declined or been stagnant during this time.
So much for that backlash conservatives warned us about, huh?
Conservatives are–predictably–trying to spin the 2004 Inspector General’s report on the CIA’s interrogation program as vindication of their view that torture successfully thwarted terrorist attacks.
Of course, that’s inaccurate: