Will He Stay Or Will He Go?

Is President Barack Obama planning to wind down America’s engagement in Afghanistan or ramp it up?

Some confusing news from Washington today. The New York Times alleges that President Obama “plans to lay out a time frame for winding down the American involvement in the war in Afghanistan” while The Wall Street Journal reports that the White House has come up with a “revamped war strategy in Afghanistan that includes tens of thousands of additional U.S. forces and benchmarks for the eventual transfer of Afghanistan’s defense to the Afghan government.”

Next Tuesday the president is scheduled to meet with members of Congress before speaking at West Point where he will outline his exit strategy for the war. Apparently, the Times believes this signals a “winding down” of the American involvements in spite of the sending 30,000 extra troops.

According to an anonymous official, Obama “wants to give a clear sense of both the time frame for action and how the war will eventually wind down” although for now, it seems, we will see a lot more action first before anything winds down. There is no talk of even a time frame yet, let alone withdrawal. The Times‘ assessment therefore would seem rather premature at this stage.

Whatever the president says on Tuesday he is likely to be attacked for it from both the left and the right. Where the latter calls upon him to send in even more additional troops than he already will, Michael Moore suggest in The Huffington Post that Obama fire General Stanley McChrystal — even though just last May he replaced the previous commander, General David McKiernan for failing to implement a more irregular strategy. Firing another general just six months later seems rather like a bad idea but then again, Moore apparently has utterly no idea what the war is about.

I know you know that there are LESS than a hundred al-Qaeda left in Afghanistan! 100,000 troops trying to crush a hundred guys living in caves? Are you serious? Have you drunk Bush’s Kool-Aid? I refuse to believe it.

You better start believing it, Mr Moore. Obama might become a “war president” as you so dread, but he understands that the United States must persevere in Afghanistan. This war is of immense importance to maintain America’s credibility as well as the security of the region. That Obama remains determined to bring it to a successful end deserves praise for that reason.


  1. I was going to enter an article on this and the times, but you beat me to it Nick and good on you too, it’s better than I would’ve done.
    The idea of putting a time frame on a war is silly and reminds one of limmited war and LBJ putting the wheels of withdrawal in motion before the turning point of the Vietnam campaign had been reached. Thus failure. The Surge strategy is a quick fix and as was seen in Iraq, it had its merit but it by no-means ended the deployment and I fear that’s what Obama thinks it will achieve in Afghan’.

  2. I’m not sure. Throughout his campaign, Obama stressed how important winning Afghanistan was and he doesn’t appear to have lost that conviction. Rather I think his promise to start withdrawing troops before election time should be understood as a way to smooth Democrats. I wouldn’t be surprised if American troops were to remain in the country for many years to come.

  3. They wont have much choice if they want to succeed. My concern remains, the promise to start troop withdrawals could easily lead onto action. The people want troops out, Obama got votes on that. Once set in motion, these things have a tendancy to continue of their own accord.

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