Saturday, December 5, 2009

Commander in Chief

This review is now complete. And as Commander-in-Chief, I have determined that it is in our vital national interest to send an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan. After 18 months, our troops will begin to come home. These are the resources that we need to seize the initiative, while building the Afghan capacity that can allow for a responsible transition of our forces out of Afghanistan. – excerpt from President Obama’s speech

From the “be careful what you wish for” department we have the previous statement from the first US President to invoke the “Powell Doctrine.” Ever since the Vietnam War we have been inundated with the oft repeated chorus of “don’t send in troops without an exit strategy”. From Reagan to Bush II it has been the same refrain and to a man none of them heeded the warning. Each one of them to a man committed American troops without consideration of how they will be extracted. The closest to come to observing this doctrine was the elder Bush with the Gulf War when he went against conventional wisdom and did not allow US troops to enter Baghdad.

How anyone could be surprised by the president’s decision is beyond me. Even as a candidate Senator Obama stated that he wasn’t against all wars, just dumb wars and that he felt the trouble with Afghanistan was a lack of resources. So he decides to provide the resources for a limited amount of time and see if this will provide the impetus needed to reverse the momentum loss caused by the previous administration’s lack of focus. We must remember that there were no good options. The thing that troubles me about many of the critics of the President’s policy is their seeming naivet√© concerning what those options were. They provide the false dichotomy of only two options: escalation or retreat. This President would be damned if he did and damned if he didn’t. If he had chosen to remove our presence from Afghanistan and there would be another terrorist attack on American soil as so many of the wing-nuts is hoping for, he would receive a mortal wound and not just him but the Democrats as a whole.

Right, wrong or indifferent we invaded Afghanistan and as a result of that invasion we owe it to those folks to give them our best effort and after that effort if we fail then at least we tried. To say that we are packing up and leaving at this stage was a viable option was not only disingenuous but also foolish. No rational person would advocate limitless war as many on the right seem to be doing, but at the same time we have an obligation to make an effort to meet our goals. The problem previously has been that there were no goals, at least now we have goals and a strategy. No one knows if they will succeed, thus the need for an exit strategy.

A legitimate concern is that this escalation could lead to a more protracted conflict; after all we have been there for almost eight years. In this instance we have to trust the man elected to be commander in chief to stand by his word. The question then becomes do we have reason not to trust this president? This is a question every American has to answer for themselves. I for one have not received enough evidence to the contrary not to at least give him the benefit of the doubt. Undoubtedly there will be those who would argue the opposite and they are entitled to their opinion, but where are the facts?

The bottom line remains the same as it is in Iraq and that is if the Afghanis are not willing to support our efforts and themselves then no amount of troop increase or expenditure of wealth will make this effort a success. The key to this or any military action comes down to the folks who will be left behind when we finally leave and make no mistake we will leave. Too often our past foreign policy decisions have been based in the false premise that all nations want our form of government and our capitalistic society. The truth is that there are many nations who are not willing to accept our excesses as their own, who have historical cultures that predate our own that are not conducive to democracy. Does that make them wrong? Maybe, but that is not an issue for us to decide but for the citizens of that country. Our goal should be to provide them with the opportunity to choose for themselves and the wherewithal to defend those choices.

I for one applaud the President’s decision making process and his willingness to take the political hits to be thoughtful and deliberate. I applaud the fact that he did not make this decision in the heat of the political winds and that he realized the gravity of this decision. I may not agree with the exact decision, but I respect how he arrived at it enough to give him the benefit of the doubt and I think the men and women in our military feel the same way. Part of the greatness of America despite the fear mongering of the wing-nuts is our ability to have debate without fear of reprisals, such as being called traitors or un-American. Thank God those days are over, so even if you disagree with me and the president I promise I want dismiss you as being unpatriotic.


“The first quality for a commander-in-chief is a cool head to receive a correct impression of things. He should not allow himself to be confused by either good or bad news.” - Napoleon

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think that too many Blacks are far too eagar to believe nearly anything the Obama administration says and too quick to make excuses for its disingenuousness.

Obama's simplistic and simple-minded "analysis" of the roots of America and the West's problem with much of the Islamic world while he was on the campaign trail: "It's all the fault of those crazed Islamic extremists!" and his repeated declarations of uncritical loyalty to the nation state of Israel, forshadowed his intention to escalate the latest crusade in Afghanistan, in Somalia, in Yemen, etc., etc., etc...

Personally, I doubt that the generals ever even asked for 40,000additional troops. That was just an ugly and elaborate public show that the administration put on in order to pretend to show concern for the feelings of its many anti-war supporters, while actually doing what it inteded to do all along, kowtow to it's backers in the military industrial complex.

In reality, there was never any debate or discussion, the generals asked for and got the exactly the 30,000-35,000 additional troops that they wanted. I wish them luck in their quest to impose and maintain a user friendly lackey government on the people over there so that their projected Central Asian pipeline network is secure. Many other empires have tried to impose their will there over the centuries...

 
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