Skip to comments.
Victor Davis Hanson: Phony War: Afghanistan and the Democrats
World Affairs Journal ^
| Winter 2009
| Victor Davis Hanson
Posted on 02/11/2009 8:06:29 AM PST by Tolik
|Over Tatooine DOD/Ondik
Most Americans in 2003 thought that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were complementary theaters in the wider war on radical Islamic terrorism and the authoritarian Middle East regimes that aided and abetted it. The anti-Iraq War left agreed that the two fronts were connectedbut in an antithetical, rather than a symbiotic, way. For them, the illegitimate, unilateral war in Iraq came at the expense of the lawful multilateral struggle in Afghanistan. Yet a brief review of the two wars not only suggests that such a view is mistaken, but also that it is disingenuousespecially the trope of damning the American effort in Iraq by claiming that, in addition to its other moral and strategic deficits, it caused us to take our eye off Afghanistan.
It is worth remembering that when the United States invaded Afghanistan on October 6, 2001, many on the left forecast immediate doom. The craggy peaks of the Hindu Kush were too high. The weather was too icy. With Ahmad Shah Massouds assassination by al-Qaeda, the Northern Alliance would surely not fight effectively. The same fate that had defeated both past British and Russian imperial occupiers lay in wait for us. New York Times writer R. W. Apple summed up such liberal uneaseshortly before the rout of the Talibanwhen he declared the first weeks of war in Afghanistan had already produced a hopeless Vietnam-like debacle.
But Afghanistan proved to be the quagmire that wasnt. The unexpectedly sudden defeat of the Taliban, coupled with the rapid establishment of an elected Karzai government, quieted anti-war opposition for a timeeven as fleeing Islamic terrorists began regrouping with near impunity across the border in Pakistan. In the autumn of 2002, about a year after the Talibans fall, success in Afghanistan was an attractive argument for more action, not more caution. Surprised by the quick victory of American arms in Afghanistanbut continually worried about being seen as soft on national security amid growing public support for ending the murderous regime of Saddam Husseina majority of Democratic congressmen and senators voted in October 2002, weeks before the midterm elections, to authorize a second war in Iraq. Few on the left wished to go on record opposing another successful military operation. Indeed, given the success of the recent war against the Taliban, most envisioned an even easier time against the once-beaten and weakened Saddam Hussein.
At first, such hawkishness about the war against Saddam seemed a smart political move. After the three-week spectacular victory, more than 70 percent of Americans in April 2003 supported the so-far successful Iraqi war. President Bushs own approval ratings soaredalong with those of the politicians in Congress who had supported him. By mid-2004, however, the Iraqi insurrection gained critical mass. Terrorists began to kill hundreds of American soldiers. Shiite-Sunni infighting soured Americans on an apparently ungrateful and hopelessly savage Iraq, as what had once seemed a cakewalk turned into a bloody stalemate. The public began to turn on the messy American occupation, and especially its foremost proponent, President George W. Bush.
In response, a number of prominent Democratic senatorsJoe Biden, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Diane Feinstein, John Kerry, and Harry Reidwho had once given ringing speeches about invading Iraq, now about-faced. They abruptly claimed that they had earlier only reluctantly authorized, not advocated, a warone that had been illegitimately hyped to them through doctored and misleading intelligence.
As the 2006 elections neared, and Bushs dismal approval ratings continued to reflect public unhappiness with the course of the war, most liberal congressional supporters of the Iraq War had finished their reversions to type, and reinvented themselves as principled and longstanding critics of the conflict. It was not surprising that they should do so, as U.S. losses mounted and many erstwhile pro-war pundits now assured the nation that the war was lost. Anti-war had always remained their default option. Few remembered that both the House and Senate had once authorized the invasion of Iraq on twenty-three writs that ranged from violations of United Nations-sanctioned no-fly zones, inspections, and 1991 armistice accords, to oil-for-food skullduggery and genocide against the Iraqi people. Even fewer cared that, while WMD arsenals had not been found, the other original congressional premises for removing Saddam were still as valid at election time in 2006 as when they had been ratified in 2002.
A quandary arose: how could liberal Democrats both retain their national security credentials and yet at the same time cater to growing public disillusionment with Iraq? In response to that dilemma, a useful new narrative about the American occupation in Afghanistan emerged. As the exiled Taliban regrouped and began waging attacks from their sanctuaries in Pakistan, and the United States took greater losses in Iraq, Afghanistan slowly transmogrified into the good but now neglected war. Indeed, Afghanistan was to be contrasted with Iraq, increasingly dismissed as the unnecessary and bad conflict, where we were pinned down and diminished by Bushs strategic incoherence, Cheneys shilling for Halliburton, and the neoconservatives stealthily catering to Israels anti-Arab agendas. Newscasters grimly announced daily American fatalities in Iraq, but rarely in Afghanistan, whose violence remained on the back pages.
Where, liberal critics lamented, was the Iraqi version of the Afghan statesman Hamid Karzai or the legitimate NATO and United Nations presence in Iraq? And whyin the most disingenuous chapter of the new narrative crafted to prove liberal patriotic support for American military efforts abroadwere we in Iraq creating terrorists ex nihilo, when we could have ended them once and for all, had we gone all out and crushed a trapped Osama bin Laden at Tora Bora in December 2001 in Afghanistan?
The liberal mantra now declared that the unilateral, preemptive conflict in Iraq was not only unnecessary and lost, but, worse still, had siphoned off critical resources from the politically correct multilateral and legally justified war against the Taliban, who had, after all, helped to cause the September 11 terrorist attacks. Anti-war liberal Democrats had discovered the magic bullet: they could retain their national security credentials and avoid appearing soft on terrorism by lamenting that by being bogged down in Iraq we had become too complacent in Afghanistan. Or, as then presidential candidate Barack Obama framed the issue in a debate with John McCain, We took our eye off Afghanistan. We took our eye off the folks who perpetrated 9/11. The Democrats strange and twisted journey from supporting the war effort in Iraq, to wanting it immediately ended, while wishing for more fighting in Afghanistana war some on the left had once declared impossible to win in October 2001was now complete.
Such an odyssey was again reflected in self-described anti-war and then senatorial candidate Barack Obamas July 27, 2004, comment on Iraq: Theres not that much difference between my position and George Bushs position at this stage. But later, on January 31, 2007, as a soon-to-be presidential candidate, and with news from the front now far worse and George Bushs poll ratings diving, Obama scorned the surge, which he claimed had not worked, and pledged that all U.S. combat forces should be out of Iraq by March 31, 2008. He hammered that message throughout the summer and autumn of 2007: The best way to protect our security and to pressure Iraqs leaders to resolve their civil war is to immediately begin to remove our combat troops. Not in six months or one yearnow.
Such a move would probably have led to an American defeat and Iraqi genocide, as the country would have been effectively trisected into a Kurdish breakaway republic at war with Turkey, an Iranian rump protectorate of Shiites to the south, and a radical Sunni client state of Saudi Arabiaall in perennial terrorist wars with one another, fueled by religious hatred and Iraqi oil.
But anti-war candidate Obama protected himself against charges that he was ignoring the danger posed by Islamic terrorists by making even bolder promises that he would send another 7,000 troops to Afghanistan and invade Pakistan, if need be, in hot pursuit of al-Qaeda. It appeared that Obama, and others who supported his new bellicose calls, was not really against the idea of either surging troops or crossing national borders to hunt down insurgents per se; they were just opposed to doing all that in the politically incorrect Iraq theater, but for doing it in the properly sanctioned Afghanistan war. So President Bush was to be condemned not just for having been too warlike in Iraq, but now also for not being warlike enough in Afghanistan.
In fact, there are a number of historical and practical reasons to doubt both the sincerity and the logic of the new liberal calls for escalation in Afghanistanespecially since it uncharacteristically committed the left to a renewed and difficult struggle against the Taliban that they may soon likewise disown.
First, the coalition of the willing that invaded Iraq was larger, both in aggregate size and the number of nations involved, than the few allied troops that initially joined us in Afghanistan. The United Nations sanction to go into Afghanistan was similar to the logic of invading Iraq to force compliance with UN resolutions that had been ignored by Saddam Hussein, from the corrupt oil-for-food program to violations concerning UN-sanctioned no-fly zones and inspections of Saddams arsenals. U.S. allies like the British, Poles, and Australians who went to Iraq were also about the only serious fighters who showed up in Afghanistan, a war in which most NATO members, except for the Canadians, merely voted present without ever fully engaging the enemy on the battlefield. In the strict military sense, one might ask what did it matter that the Germans and Belgians, whose military protocols forbid real fighting against the Taliban, did not later join the United States to engage either the ex-Baathists or the jihadists in Iraq?
Second, the perpetrators of 9/11 were radical Muslim Arab terrorists. Although the Taliban harbored those who had planned the attacks, no Afghan had traveled to the United States to kill Americans. Saddam Hussein, while not responsible for the 9/11 attacks, nevertheless had been in a de facto war with the United States Air Force for twelve years in the no-fly zones over Iraq. He had also sheltered an array of terrorists, both secular killers from the 1980s such as Abu Nidal and Abu Abbas, and those with ties to radical Islamists and al-Qaeda, like Abdul Rahman Yasin, a suspect in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who arrived in Iraq in summer 2002, and the al-Qaedaaffiliated Ansar al-Islam (Partisans of Islam) terrorists who were given apparent refuge by Saddam.
If the war on terror were to be truly global and waged primarily against both radical Muslim terrorists from the Arab Middle East who had a long history of killing Americans, and anti-American dictators who had given them sanctuary and support, then an argument could be made that Iraq was as much a legitimate target as Afghanistan. There was also the additional humanitarian consideration that the regime of Saddam Hussein had killed far more innocents than had the Taliban, started far more foreign wars, and had a far longer record of prior military conflict with the United States.
Third, while many in the anti-war movement made a facile distinction of Afghanistan as the necessary and correct war, and Iraq as the incorrect and unnecessary fight, the enemy saw few such differences. In a series of communiqués, both of al-Qaedas self-appointed leaders, Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden, soon boasted that Iraq had become the central front in their global war against the United States. Bin Laden, for example, in 2004 warned:
The most important and serious issue today for the whole world is this Third World War, which the Crusader-Zionist coalition began against the Islamic nation. It is raging in the land of the two rivers. The worlds millstone and pillar is in Baghdad, the capital of the caliphate. The whole world is watching this war and the two adversaries; the Islamic nation, on the one hand, and the United States and its allies on the other. It is either victory and glory or misery and humiliation. The nation today has a very rare opportunity to come out of the subservience and enslavement to the West and to smash the chains with which the Crusaders have fettered it.
A year later, Zawahiri, in his now infamous letter to al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, wrote:
I want to be the first to congratulate you for what God has blessed you with in terms of fighting battle in the heart of the Islamic world, which was formerly the field for major battles in Islams history, and what is now the place for the greatest battle of Islam in this era.
Apparently, al-Qaeda thought killing a few thousand American soldiers in Iraq and causing the United States to flee in panic might weaken our resistance in Afghanistan and indeed cause us to lose the war elsewhere. The only mystery is why we, in turn, did not accept the reverse principlethat killing several thousand terrorists in Iraq and creating a constitutional state there harmed the cause of kindred jihadists worldwide, and especially those like Zawahiri and bin Laden in hiding along the Afghanistan border.
In short, almost no onecertainly not anti-war American liberals who had become almost as obsessed with Bushs war in Iraq as they claimed Bush himself wasasked whether the enemy was incorrect in thinking Iraq had become the central battleground between the West and its enemies. Were international jihadists not foregoing travel to Afghanistan instead to fight and die in Iraq? Was the global prestige of al-Qaeda not on trial in Iraq? And were ripples from the American presence in Iraqwhether the promise to surrender WMD arsenals offered us spontaneously by Libyan strongman Muammar al-Gaddafi (December 2003), the house arrest of Pakistan nuclear proliferator Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan (February 2004), or the exit of Syria from Lebanon (April 2005)not likely fallout from the American removal of the Hussein regime?
Nor did many critics of the Iraq War ponder another nagging question: if nuclear Pakistan, our reluctant ally, were to be considered off limits for large American ground forces in tracking down Osama bin Laden and attacking al- Qaeda jihadists in areas such as Waziristan, where else were Western forces to fight and defeat global radical Islamists if not in the free-fire zone of Iraq?
In addition, as radical Islamic insurgents began losing fighters in Iraq, various Pew Global Attitudes polls of Middle East popular sentiment revealed a drastic decline in approval ratings for the tactic of suicide bombing (a fall ranging in 2007 from 25 to 40 points in various Middle East countries). Those findings mirrored earlier declines in the popularity of Osama bin Laden himself, whose approval ratings by 2005 were below 50 percent in almost every country in the Middle East. Similarly, few in September 2001 had believed that the United States homeland would have remained free from another major terrorist attack emanating from the Middle East for the next seven yearsan unforeseen development, but one at least in part likely attributable to the terrible losses suffered by radical Islamists in Iraq. It would not be too much to conclude, therefore, that rather than creating enemies there, we have been engaging enemies that already existed and fighting them on a battlefield of our choice rather than theirs.
Fourth, when had the United States ever shied away from fighting two wars at once? We fought Japan, Germany, and Italy simultaneously, even though there was no evidence that Germany or Italy was responsible, or even knew in advance, of the Pearl Harbor attacks, or that there was ever much military cooperation between the racist German Nazi regime and the Japanese racial and cultural imperialists. The United States blocked the Red Army from entering Western Europe as it fought over two million North Korean and Chinese communist ground troops on the Korean peninsula. In fact, our forefathers not only assumed that a mobilized America could wage multifarious global wars, but also learned that victory in one theater could enhance efforts even in a far distant other. Therefore, given such knowledge of U.S. military history, why would anyone think the effort in Iraq necessarily came at the expense of Afghanistan, rather than symbiotically enhancing our efforts there, by killing transient jihadists and gaining valuable insight into the art of counterinsurgency warfare?
Fifth, liberal braggadocio about leaving Iraq to regroup assets for an escalation in Afghanistan was also predicated on a misreading of the relative difficulty of the two theaters. By 2005, when the new hard line narrative on Afghanistan had gained credence among liberal politicians, anti-Iraq War critics assumed Iraq was lost, but that the NATO effort in Afghanistan, in contrast, was simply stalled and in need of a transference of manpower and materiel from Iraq. But both assumptions to varying degrees were flawed.
Iraqwith secular traditions, plentiful oil, rich, level farmland, a far better educated populace, and an accessible portwas always the less difficult challenge in fostering postbellum constitutional government. The difficulty in Afghanistan, moreover, was not necessarily the result of a shortage of U.S. troops due to the focus on Iraq. Instead the challenge was the nearly insolvable problem of bringing modern government to medieval warring factions, encouraging economic development among a largely illiterate population, which had traditionally earned cash by supplying most of the worlds raw heroin and by doing so supported the growth of anti-Western warlords, and stopping cross-border Taliban incursions by violating the sovereignty of an unstable, authoritarian, Islamic, and nuclear allied Pakistan. These were complex problems more likely helped than hindered by the expertise and tactics learned in the war in Iraq.
Indeed, the liberal braggadocio on Afghanistanwholly untethered to any real, concrete tactical plans or responsibility for its possible consequenceshas amounted to a kind of empty self-dramatization. Senator Obama may have on occasion boasted about invading PakistanIf we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf wont act, we willbut in fact, the United States already is hitting targets in Pakistan, albeit not to loud public boasts about such risky actions. Our ability to shoot missiles at terrorist enclaves in Pakistan from Predator dronesoperations that violate Pakistani airspaceis, in fact, predicated on our own promises of discretion.
Sixth, such liberal chest-pounding about Afghanistan was also predicated on the assumption that the war there would remain static. Iraq was irretrievably lost, the liberals believed, but Afghanistan was more or less deadlocked and therefore capable of being positively affected by a little strategic tinkering. But once conditions on the ground in Anbar Province radically changed, and the bad Iraq quieted while the good Afghanistan began to heat up, anti-war critics began to get a sense of the dilemma they now facedhaving to escalate, as promised, the Afghan war and win it rather quickly once their largely rhetorical demand for a transference of the manpower and financial resources improperly diverted to the misadventure in Iraq had been met.
This political dilemma again was not new. Liberal Democrats in the summer and autumn of 2002 had sounded tough and aggressive about the looming Iraq war, as long as the perception of quick and easy victory was likely, and someone else (Commander-in-Chief George Bush) took the major responsibility for the conduct of the war should it become difficult and unpopular. Something similar was happening now with Afghanistan.
Taking our eye off the ball, and supposedly ignoring Afghanistan, were rather inexpensive ways of voicing partisan attacks on George Bushs Iraq War. But now the Iraq War has been largely won (the number of U.S. soldiers who died in actual combat operations in Iraq in October 2008 was seven; more than forty Americans were murdered in Chicago each month on average in 2008). And after January 20, 2009, Commander-in-Chief Obama will have the responsibility for the costs and difficulties of the Afghan war he had been apparently eager to take on during the campaign against Senator John McCain. Consequently, we may well see president-elect Obamas once promised hawkishness dissipate. After all, many liberal hawks figured that they could issue their war cries without ever being forced to hold the reins of governance with commensurate responsibility, or, by that the time they were given responsibility, the Afghan war would be over.
Vowing to do what it takes in the good war by leaving Iraqinfusing more troops into Afghanistan, and occasionally invading Pakistanwas for candidate Obama always a rhetorical stance that proved both his anti-Iraq War bona fides and his larger credibility on matters of national security. But President Obama and his mercurial supporters in Congress will soon face a rather embarrassing dilemma. Without the responsibilities of a commander-in-chief, he once demanded we should leave Iraq when leaving would have lost that war. But now, as commander- in-chief he will soon learn that a few thousand more troops will not guarantee lasting victory over the Taliban. And changing strategy from stealthy attacks by aerial drones in Pakistan to open ground incursions across the border risks widening rather than solving the conflict.
Taking our eye off the ball was always a dubious campaign talking point. Afghanistan was not the only ball in the global war against terror; we never took our eye off it; and we were always binocular. What we may well see instead is that those who wished more of an American commitment to Afghanistan as cover for their opposition to Iraq will now desert President Obama, as anti-war critics take their eye off a receding Iraq and focus it instead on an increasingly violent Afghanistanespecially given the sensational terrorist acts associated with the near-rogue state of Pakistan. In that case, President Obama may well have to revert to his earlier manifestation of candidate Obama, who campaigned on the notion that a surge of military forces into an apparent quagmire was little more than an unsophisticated act of desperationin a complex landscape that required American forces to exit and to allow indigenous tribal folks to sort out their own affairs.
Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of A War Like No Other: How the Spartans and Athenians Fought the Peloponnesian War.
TOPICS: Editorial; Foreign Affairs; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: afghanistan; democrats; obama; obamamania; vdh; victordavishanson
posted on 02/11/2009 8:06:29 AM PST
To: neverdem; Lando Lincoln; quidnunc; .cnI redruM; SJackson; dennisw; monkeyshine; Alouette; ...
posted on 02/11/2009 8:07:10 AM PST
| Planning Victory in Afghanistan. Nine principles the Obama administration should follow
|| NRO ^ | February 09, 2009 | Frederick W. Kagan
President Obama has said many times that America must succeed in Afghanistan. He is right, and he deserves our full support in that effort. Afghanistan is in many respects harder to understand than Iraq was. Even with a good strategy and sufficient resources, success will almost certainly come much more slowly. But as a great man said two years ago, hard is not hopeless. The keys to finding the right approach lie in nine fundamental principles. 1. UNDERSTAND WHY WERE THEREAfghanistan is not now a sanctuary for al-Qaeda, but it would likely become one again if we abandoned it. Mullah...
| General Petraeus: Afghanistan Will Get Harder Before It Gets Easier [NRO title]
|| NRO ^ | February 09, 2009 | General Petraeus
Afghanistan has been a very tough endeavor. Certainly, there have been important achievements there over the past seven years agreement on a constitution, elections, and establishment of a government; increased access to education, health care, media, and telecommunications; construction of a significant number of infrastructure projects; development of the Afghan National Army; and others. But in recent years the resurgence of the Taliban and Al Qaeda has led to an increase in violence, especially in the southern and eastern parts of the country. Numerous other challenges have emerged as well, among them: difficulties in the development of governmental institutions...
posted on 02/11/2009 8:09:01 AM PST
Mr. Hanson, would you have time to visit some of my family living in Princeton, NJ and explain that their views of the Iraq War are phoney and twisted? I have tried talking to them when Her Heinous was running but had the phone slammed down in response. I have no desire to try and explain the truth to them, as well as another part of my family who voted for Bambi. Two things they have in common are plenty of money and squishy brains. Thanks for article, it is, as usual, terrific.
posted on 02/11/2009 8:39:58 AM PST
(Democrats are not intelligent)
Most people have by now forgotten that on the eve of war in Iraq, North Korea started rattling sabers and threatening to invade South Korea in a rather transparent effort to distract us.
There was a long line of Democrats who went on camera on every talking head show out there to demand that we confront North Korea, “the real enemy”. This, as our troops gathered in Kuwait, right before they crossed the line into Iraq.
For anyone paying attention, this places Saddam, North Korea, and the Democrats all in the same bed.
What I’ve found is that Democrats, when they need to sound “butch”, will often beat their chests and preen and pose valiantly as they demand a war you are not in, in an effort to scuttle a war that you are in. Its a double whammy. They undercut the war you’re in without being labeled anti-war. But they can never be counted on to back you through any war, certainly not once the going gets tough.
In Iraq, most Democrats voted for war and most of them also went straight out to news conferences to denounce the war... within minutes of the vote. Their seat in the senate was still warm when they were on camera railing against the war they had just authorized. This allowed them to play it either way as events unfolded. If it went well, they were for it right from the beginning. And if it went badly, they were against it... right from the beginning.
posted on 02/11/2009 8:59:46 AM PST
VDH always does good work.
Also worth pointing out that liberals fundamentally agree with the terrorists about the “root causes” of terror. They see it as fundamentally OUR fault, and so their enthusiasm for “smoking out” OBL and his pals in Afghansistan is superficial at best.
posted on 02/11/2009 9:39:36 AM PST
For anyone paying attention, this places Saddam, North Korea, and the Democrats all in the same bed.
Because its all about power. They believe that their vision of America is so much better than conservatives that any means achieving it will be OK.
It was never clearer when House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn said about prospects of a surge success in Iraq: He said that a positive report by Gen. David Petraeus back in September 2007 will be "a real big problem for us" (link)
us here = Dems and not US.
MSM let it slide, of course, and only talk radio and conservative bloggers reported it. But it can't be more honest and cynical then that: success of the country does not matter - success of the party does.
On many occasions I commented that I am 100% sure that it wouldve been no anti-war movement to speak about if it was President Gore who lead the action in Afghanistan and Iraq. There is big BUT and IF buried here, though. A President Gore, Kerry, Clinton or Obama is simply not capable of doing what Bush did. We have a good example from our ally Israel: their war against Hezbollah a few summers back was pathetic - lead by central left government amidst unprecedented support from their usually feisty media. Israeli government was timid and indecisive. They probably made some conclusions out of it, because this time around the war against Hamas did not have the same air of impotence around it. A deterring tough guy image was probably restored. Still a cynic in me says that the center-left leaders would not start this war regardless of Hamas escalations IF not for the coming elections where they desperately needed to look tough.
Its amazing how lefty groups are not supportive of efforts that actually trying to achieve their supposed goals. For rare exclusions feminists are absent from helping women of Afghanistan. Environmentalists are silent on the fact that Saddam's handling of oil fields was a disaster; or altering marshes was ecological disaster of its own. Imagine a gay parade anywhere in the Mideast but Israel! Did you see in the news any pro-Israel gay group? Very much similar to Kafkaesque response of some Human Rights group another day that (paraphrasing) they criticize Israel much more than Hamas because Hamas is so obvious violator that its waste of time to talk about it.
posted on 02/11/2009 9:42:46 AM PST
posted on 02/11/2009 9:53:30 AM PST
(Be prepared for tough times. FReepmail me to learn about our survival thread!)
The American public cannot be so dimwitted as to believe the transparent lies of the left. Instead, most Americans are self serving cowards.
Drug activity, abortion, gambling, divorce rates, our vast entertainment industry, government dependence on handouts, are all evidence of a selfish, delusional populas of mindless adolescents. The election of 0 proves my hypothesis. We do not have enough adult minded people in our country to elect a patriot over a crime lord.
posted on 02/11/2009 10:43:14 AM PST
by Louis Foxwell
(He is the son of soulless slavers, not the son of soulful slaves.)
What we may well see instead is that those who wished more of an American commitment to Afghanistan as cover for their opposition to Iraq will now desert President Obama, as anti-war critics take their eye off a receding Iraq and focus it instead on an increasingly violent Afghanistanespecially given the sensational terrorist acts associated with the near-rogue state of Pakistan. In that case, President Obama may well have to revert to his earlier manifestation of candidate Obama, who campaigned on the notion that a surge of military forces into an apparent quagmire was little more than an unsophisticated act of desperationin a complex landscape that required American forces to exit and to allow indigenous tribal folks to sort out their own affairs.
Part of that has already taken place as the chronically obnoxious Cindy Sheehan and Code Pink have shifted their focus from a war they failed to influence the U.S. to lose to another they'd like us to. That sort of thing is to be expected, but Obama's and the Democrats' gymnastic posturing on the topic has left them in the really ugly position of having to prove that Bush was wrong by proving that their emphasis on fighting in, and not running from, Afghanistan, is the optimal strategy. Even with the nearly unanimous media support the Dems enjoy the shifting from this position to one of pulling out of Afghanistan altogether is going to be a very tough sell. The clear-cut victory in Iraq will only make that more difficult, one reason we've heard so little of it. The media are hedging their bets.
At this point there is an additional hazard, which is that any motion from Iraq that causes any less stability than we're seeing at the moment is going to be impossible to pin on Bush. And Obama has stubbornly insisted at least on the illusion of such motion. That is all risk and no reward, a clumsy and callow political move.
It will be even more interesting to see how far he is going to attempt to maintain his position that we must move ground troops into Pakistan. That was a position taken largely to attempt to posture as a hawk and is, in fact, ground on which Bush trod very carefully. For Obama now to blunder into that potentially very violent arena out of a sense of adherence to macho posturing is one way to get a lot of very good troops killed for nothing but vanity.
My guess is that little bit of armchair generalship from a complete amateur will be allowed to drop quietly out of existence by the media as if it had never been. It had better be. The very last thing we need is hesitancy and half-measures in any such attempt. We either go in to win it and accept the damage that is likely to do to the tribals there or we don't do it at all.
The Democratic party mantra: that “stupid” Bush invaded the wrong country and that we should have invaded Afghanistan instead.
I suspect that if Gore or Clinton had been president when 9-11 occurred they would have ended up doing what they always did. Make some noise, consult with our European allies, and end up with nothing much more than a UN resolution. But let’s give them the benefit of the doubt. They accused Bush of ignoring Afghanistan? He sent a couple thousand special forces. They hooked up with the Northern alliance, who were encouraged to go on the offensive. With help from our air power they quickly put the Taliban out of business to the delight of the people in Kabul.
Compare this with what would have happened if the Democrats did what they say they would have done. 300,000 American troops conducting some ham fisted occupation? Look what happened to the Russians! And the American people could’t even stomach Iraq! Obama was even dumb enough during the campaign to even consider invading Pakistan.
I remember a conversation I had with a buddy who supported Obama. I listed the disastrous things he was promising to do as my reasons for not supporting him. My buddy’s answer was, “yes, but he’s not really going to do those things”.
And thats the way I see Obama supporters. They read onto Obama’s blank wall whatever they wish to read onto it. They don’t worry about contradictions in his program because they believe they know what he’s really going to do. They all believe he’s brilliant because they believe he agrees with them. Even when he disagrees with them they somehow believe he secretly agrees with them.
If in the end he does exactly the same thing Bush did, they’re OK with it because they know Obama is doing it reluctantly, regretfully, with his heart in the right place, whereas we all know Bush did it with evil intent.
posted on 02/11/2009 11:20:53 AM PST
posted on 02/11/2009 11:23:03 AM PST
(Barack Obama is a Communist Party Project.)
posted on 02/11/2009 11:31:30 AM PST
thats not the change I want.
The guy is a disaster. The next four years, eight years, whatever are going to be excrutiating.
I'm expecting really bad things to happen. Its not going to be funny.
posted on 02/11/2009 11:41:41 AM PST
Speaking about Obama-voting friends.
The argument I received back in October was:
1. Its Bush and republicans that created all this mess
2. It was 8 years of disgrace
3. The WOLRD does not like us because of Bush
4. Give a black man a chance
It came from a more-less a-political people, and not Dem yellow dogs. They are fiscally conservative and we have little difference in how we raise our kids. Outside politics, we are very much compatible in the everyday life, which is additionally proved by different vacations spent together without braking apart.
After a while I stopped arguing because I don’t want to lose friends. My conclusion is that “enemy propaganda” works quite well, and in a liberal state like Maryland, its everywhere, one should seek alternatives consciously, otherwise you not going to stumble upon them.
Obama supplies me with lots of ammunition now, so I’ll get back to them eventually.
posted on 02/11/2009 12:01:03 PM PST
It came from a more-less a-political people, and not Dem yellow dogs.
Same in my case, it was a fairly apolitical guy I always assumed was fairly conservative. His arguments were similar to the ones you listed. But come to think of it he moves in unionized circles, so his apparent conservative demeanor doesn't translate into political conservatism. And he believes all the Bush-Halliburton conspiracy stories, and doesn't believe any of the dirt on the Dems. Or, like most Dems, if you can prove some of the dirt, his reply is that they all do it. If you can prove that the Bush conspiracy stuff is false, he figures your facts are disinformation from the Bush crowd.
He knows the score; he reads factcheck.org, or whatever.
I have a close colleague who was Repub, but became a Dem after reading Obama's books. He was over the moon for the guy. But although Repub, he again was fairly apolitical, and has a literary bent, and moves in those circles in his private life. He again sees the Bush years as you listed.
I agree that "enemy propaganda" works quite well. In actual fact, Dem control of the news and entertainment media, and schools and universities across the board, is killing us. Its killing us.
posted on 02/11/2009 1:23:17 PM PST
Yet a brief review of the two wars not only suggests that such a view is mistaken, but also that it is disingenuousespecially the trope of damning the American effort in Iraq by claiming that, in addition to its other moral and strategic deficits, it caused us to take our eye off Afghanistan.
Nice vocabulary word, and with VDH you know it is being used correctly, probably in its original classical sense.
||any literary or rhetorical device, as metaphor, metonymy, synecdoche, and irony, that consists in the use of words in other than their literal sense.
||a phrase, sentence, or verse formerly interpolated in a liturgical text to amplify or embellish.
||(in the philosophy of Santayana) the principle of organization according to which matter moves to form an object during the various stages of its existence.
< L tropus
figure in rhetoric < Gk trópos
turn, turning, turn or figure of speech, akin to trépein
posted on 02/11/2009 2:45:36 PM PST
Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual
posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its
management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the
exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson