There has been no doubt for weeks now in my mind that President Obama has been planning a retreat from Afghanistan. All the dithering and hand-wringing over the elections, Harmad Karzai and the corrupt Afghan government was just a way to put distance between himself and the "decision" -- or series of decisions -- to create plausible blame on someone else for abandoning the Afghan mission. For those who understand Obama's true goals, this decision was made months ago, and the "high level" discussions within the administration have been nothing but air cover (no pun intended) for the abandonment of the erstwhile war "of necessity". Obama is a craven opportunist, and he sees nothing but messiness in Afghanistan in the years ahead. It will get in the way of his massive goals to restructure America to his liking -- and that's a bridge too far. The reality is that Obama doesn't see the Islamic terrorist threat as particularly significant, in in that vein he has much company among the left-wing intelligentsia (a contradiction in terms, I know.) This is a president who can't bring himself to call the Fort Hood massacre a "terrorist attack". Indeed, this is president who can't bear to even utter the word "terrorism". He doesn't seem to want to deal with the realities of the world we live in, preferring instead to craft a world of platitudes where our words can somehow influence their deeds. Afghanistan, it turns out, is just another "Bush" legacy that threatens to give America a black eye and derail Obama's need to "fix" us in a way that makes us a kinder, fairer place. The redistributionist goals here at home mean we can't really be bothered to fight abroad -- why waste all that energy and money when we can use it to make payments to the Democratic base?
Afghanistan has thus joined Iraq as a "war of choice" and Obama is choosing to bail. According to Jules Crittendon this morning:
WASHINGTON - 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.
That stance comes in the midst of forceful reservations about a possible troop buildup from the U.S. ambassador in Afghanistan, Karl Eikenberry, according to a second top administration official.
In strongly worded classified cables to Washington, Eikenberry said he had misgivings about sending in new troops while there are still so many questions about the leadership of Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
So Obama will temporize and pick a "middle ground" that rejects General McChrystal's recommendations in favor of a choice that reduces the American footprint and allows us to "retreat with honor". Of course, we've seen this movie before -- we tried retreat with honor in Vietnam and it failed miserably. But past is never prelude with this president, and in his desire to protect his domestic agenda, Obama will make moves that will forestall the fall of Kabul long enough to make it appear that it is someone else's fault.
The script has been written -- now its just a matter of playing out the act. Lots of serious debate, a sober decision. And a strategic retreat.
Of course, this doesn't change the fact that Afghanistan is the crucible of Al Qaeda and the Taliban, and will again become a working base for attacks against the West. Perhaps the president figures he can manage this as a "law enforcement" exercise rather than a war, and send drones and cruise missiles in to try and make life difficult for the enemy. But the reality is that leaving Afghanistan will result in a more dangerous world for America.
And what's the point of health care reform in a nation where 9/11-scale attacks -- perhaps with WMD -- are occuring on a regular basis?