December 2, 2009

"Up to now, the president hadn’t done anything to upset any of the constituency groups of the Democratic party."

Now he has. Thank heavens for that.
Despite the shortcomings of the speech, Obama made the right policy decision. He deserves credit for that. It won’t go down well with the antiwar, pacifist left wing of his party. That’s not only his base. It’s his political home.

124 comments:

TosaGuy said...

This president could be quite successful if he were to go against the left wing of his party more often.

Mr. Forward said...

I'm listening to Wisconsin Public Radio and the callers are hot, hot hot.

Gullible Warming?

AllenS said...

With his surge then pullout at a certain time, I don't think he's winning over many conservatives or independents, either.

Salamandyr said...

surge then pullout

Sounds like something you tell you girlfriend to reassure her you're not wearing a condem.

Roger J. said...

Salamandyr owes more than one reader a new monitor (as I wipe the results of my coffee surge off my monitor)

AllenS said...

Never condem a woman for insisting you wear a condom.

Quayle said...

Obama making soup.

His policies are thin and runny, but they have a cup of every vegetable known to man.

John Salmon said...

Penalty for early withdrawal?

pm317 said...

Why are not people outraged about the number 18 months? Why 18 months (it is obvious why)? The brazen politics of that number is breathtaking. To think he thinks he can get away with it, audacity of only a fool.

knox said...

It wasn't the best speech, and the timetable isn't great, and he's probably not the best wartime president we could have. But at least he's doing something. It couldn't have been easy knowing that he was going to piss off a lot of democrats.

So I have to say, well done, Obama. This will be a big test for him, and a big "time to grow up" moment in his life.

knox said...

And I hope the right continues to support this effort and doesn't start rooting for failure in Afghanistan. We had enough of that in the last eight years.

Anthony said...

Someone should send all these angry Obama supporters to YouTube and type in Obama Afghanistan 2008.

What part of "I will send more troops to Afghanistan" did they not understand?

MadisonMan said...

It's an interesting exercise to go back into the althouse archives to January 2007.

Scott said...

Even a broken clock will tell the correct time twice a day.

Even a narcissistic, dishonest, demagogic, incompetent, shallow president will do something right once in awhile.

John Thacker said...

However, doesn't going against the left wing of his party here make him less likely to go against them on domestic issues, at least until the 2010 elections? If he brought all the troops hope, he could tell them to shut up about other issues because of what he did on the war. Now, to keep them pacified, he'll have to run further left domestically.

If the GOP wins big in 2010, he won't have to after that since, like President Clinton, he'll be able to say that he tried and lost.

Dave said...

I'm glad Fred Barnes is big enough to concede some virtues in what the president is ordering up for Afghanistan.

Still, he is incorrect to say that Obama hasn't angered the left wing of Dem party until now. He's angered them plenty on issues ranging from health care reform, where his backing for a public option has been tepid at best, to his decision to try some suspected terrorists in military tribunals.

Roger J. said...

Dave: add to your list closing gitmo, DADT, and Same sex marriage (although BHO has opposed that)

jaltcoh said...

Are we just supposed to assume that everyone on the left is vehemently opposed to Obama's decision?

Respondents to a DailyKos poll -- presumably very liberal folks -- are evenly split on whether they're for or against sending the additional troops to Afghanistan, with another chunk saying they're undecided.

Paddy O. said...

"Up to now, the president hadn’t done anything to upset any of the constituency groups of the Democratic party."

Really? So, have gay rights groups now been so thrown under the bus they don't even get included as part of his constituency?

Florida said...

Obama is Jimmy Carter II.

His Presidency will end in the desert just as Carter's did.

rdkraus said...

One of the joys of being Libertarian is that you're not locked into taking a conservative vs. liberal or Dem vs. Rep side.

This is just another terrible decision by President moron. Yes, let's send thousands more Americans to die for nothing in that God forsaken land. What a waste. A couple years from now we'll be fleeing up the ladders into helicopters, just like Vietnam.

We're nation building in Afg ?
It's insane. We're not going to build them a nice democracy in 18 months or 18 years.

Disgusting.

PS As even Tom Friedman says, we don't have the money to rebuild their world and ours, and ours should come first. We owe it to our kids, not theirs.

Expat(ish) said...

The couple next door (gay) were and are very upset with him over the whole gay marriage thing.

The eco-crunchies down the block think he's broken his promises to "heal the earth".

I thought that speech was designed to cater to the surrender wing of the Democrat party.

-XC

wv = flogblood. really.

ricpic said...

This is a tremendous victory for the International Left. The leader of It's American wing has just signaled that the West, the Left's nemesis, has caved to Islam, the Left's natural ally. He's even given a date specific.

Florida said...

"With his surge then pullout at a certain time, I don't think he's winning over many conservatives or independents, either.

The "pullout" is political BS designed to give cover only from his left flank.

How do you know this? It was the lead on CNN.

CNN reported a 30,000 troop escalation yesterday as Obama announcing the end of the war - three years from now!

We're still in Germany - 60 years and a bunch of Democrats later. We're still in Japan. We're still in Korea. We're still in fucking Kosovo for Christ sakes. We're still in Iraq.

Where we go and spill the blood our children and spend our treasure we never leave. Never forget that.

Afghanistan is ours now, bitches.

Get used to it.

Leland said...

Up to now?

I'm neither a Democrat or supporter of Obama, but I'd be either ignorant or complete ideologue not to recognize Obama upsetting various constituencies of the Democratic party.

I'd say the gay/lesbian group really got the short end of the stick. They should have figured that out after seeing Obama win overwhelmingly in California yet watching Prop 8 fall. But while we immediately heard that Gitmo would close by the end of the year (claimed, but maybe not actually happen), and we finally heard last night what to do about Gitmo; one thing about the military hasn't changed. DADT is still official policy. And gay marriage in the US is far less likely today than it was in 2008.

Unions scored big with Obama, but not the American worker. While we were promised that American jobs wouldn't go overseas, most of the money sent to GM and Chrysler resulted in whole product lines being sent overseas, at least the ones others were willing to buy. Other lines were just shutdown.

No point arguing what the healthcare plan will do to the elderly and retired members of AARP. People will differ on opinions until something is concrete. But IMO, they are getting shafted.

Environmentalist have gotten the best lip service, but so far, it is just that: Lip service.

The only people I've seen get a big pay off are Wall Street bankers, Hollywood stars, and a few famous athletes.

pm317 said...

Here is something radical/novel/nuanced Obama could have done and in the process kept his campaign promise of a non-war-monger. He could have started withdrawing the forces from Iraq and Afghanistan and promised them aid with the condition that they clean up their acts. If they didn’t and let Al-Queda, Taliban and other terrorist groups fester on their land and there is another 9/11, they would go the way of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Bring the rest of the sane countries and govts together for the mission of eradicating terrorism — ostracize and punish the bad state players who harbor terrorists (I think I have come to like GWB’s you’re with us or with them). For instance, with India's last year's terrorist attack, what is the rest of the world and the superpower America doing? Nothing, instead Pakistan is getting billions of aid and undeserved attention to their current blackmail strategies -- blackmailing the rest of the world with their nukes. Call their bluff and see if they let their govt fall apart and disintegrate. Chances are that it won’t happen.

One more thing, Pakistan certainly has resources to go after Al-Queda and Taliban if they wanted to (which is what Hillary daringly pointed out in her last trip there.) I really wish that sane govts of the world stand together and say enough is enough and would get in the face of these bullies and threaten them with dire consequences if they don’t clean up their act.

Darcy said...

I agree with ricpic.

And there will never be any rooting for failure here. I hope. Despite this "Alright, I'll send a minimal amount of troops, but they're coming back almost as fast as they go in so I can get reelected" kind of strategy. Just hope that our outstanding military will rise above this lack of leadership. Hope they are safer with the additional troops. Hope they know how much their sacrifice is appreciated.

And I do hope they do come home soon because I see no plan. I see politics. And it's beyond loathsome.

The Drill SGT said...

rdkraus said...This is just another terrible decision by President moron. Yes, let's send thousands more Americans to die for nothing in that God forsaken land. What a waste. A couple years from now we'll be fleeing up the ladders into helicopters, just like Vietnam.

Unlike Vietnam, there aren't carriers off the coast within range.

The Drill SGT said...

Darcy said...Just hope that our outstanding military will rise above this lack of leadership. Hope they are safer with the additional troops. Hope they know how much their sacrifice is appreciated.

It's not our military that needs to be convinced of Obama leadership, its the Afghan and the Taliban militaries that need to be convinced were there to win, and I don't see them getting a good message from this speech.

Chip Ahoy said...

Newly obtained documents reveal NEA artists being directed to produce art that subtly encourages the support of the President's agenda in Afghanistan … wait … oh, I'm sorry … maybe I just thought that. My bad.

Dave said...

@ Darcy

I would hardly call more than doubling our troop presence after 10 months in office 'minimal'.

Afghanistan is back as a priority because Obama put it there. It was something he campaigned on and it is now something he has commited to.

It is fair to debate the strategy, but I don't see how one cannot acknowledge the political risk he is taking here (as evidenced by the flack he is taking from all sides).

pm317 said...

Not that people read these comments carefully but I will correct my previous comment anyway because it is bugging me.

....For instance, with last year's terrorist attack from Pakistan's LeT ON INDIA, what is the rest of the world and the superpower America doing? Nothing. Instead Pakistan is getting billions of aid and undeserved attention to their current blackmail strategies -- blackmailing the rest of the world with their nukes.

Darcy said...

@Dave

Am I wrong or did McChrystal ask for 80,000 troops? 60,000 for a "riskier" strategy? And 40,000 for the "riskiest"?

That's what I care about. Why send less than the "riskiest" plan? Does that make sense to anyone at all?

If I'm wrong, forgive me. But this just seems token now. It doesn't matter if you've doubled the presence if that is not what is needed, does it? Tell me what that means?

I'm off to work, but I'm anxious to hear.

Darcy said...

And thank you, The Drill Sgt. That's obviously a very good point. Big fail, there.

master cylinder said...

Darcy, what Drill Sgt realizes is that the POTUS you hate so much is also the commander in chief.
Sucks to be you!

Kirk Parker said...

Salamandyr, I've got some advice for you: if you want to reduce the rate of unplanned pregnancies, you need to pull out before the surge.

Just sayin'...

Dave said...

@ Darcy

For starters, I suppose if we wanted a president to rubber-stamp military recommendations then we wouldn't have civilian control of the military.

McChrystals recommendation was not the only one to reach the presidents desk & to assume that it is the best option is also to assume that McChrystal has the monopoly on wisdom when it comes to such things. It is clear that the White House values his opinion and expertise or else they would not have placed him in charge. But that doesn't (and shouldn't) mean they totally defer to him.

But it does matter that we have more than doubled our size & it is in no sense 'token'. That is doubling our risk and our exposure. And that risk, politcally speaking, belongs to Obama. Should this fail, it will be his fault & his alone.

Darcy said...

LOL, master cylinder. I think you missed your mark. :)

@Dave:

I pray that you're correct.

Paul Snively said...

Shorter Dave:

<bush_as_pres>Listen to the generals! Listen to the generals!</bush_as_pres>

<obama_as_pres>Don't listen to the generals! Don't listen to the generals!</obama_as_pres>

The only thing consistent about the left in America is the depth of the horseshit they emit.

madawaskan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dust Bunny Queen said...

I would hardly call more than doubling our troop presence after 10 months in office 'minimal'.

OK then, let's call it what it is.....inadequate.

He is doing half assed motions of supplying SOME troops that the Generals requested. Not enough to do the job, but just some.

He has also clearly signaled to any Afghani who might consider fighting against the Taleeebon with the U.S. that if they do this they might as well be signing their death warrants because we do not plan to stand behind them longer than 18 months.

He is dooming thousands more US Military personnel to death and hundreds of thousands of Afghanis just for a political half assed move designed to benefit no one but Obama.

He might also be dooming one or more large US cities to a nuclear event when the Taleeeban get control of 'Pockistans' nukes. So when they blow up Chicago or New York, remember who dithered and for what reasons he did so.

Disgraceful.

bagoh20 said...

"Sounds like something you tell you girlfriend to reassure her you're not wearing a condem."(sic)

And just as satisfying and effective.

I can't escape the thought that the weak air Obama exudes with the way he has done this has our enemies licking their chops. I am very confident that our troops will perform in a way that will dissuade them, but for now the enemy are only encouraged, and that will cost many extra lives on all sides. Not conducive to success. I applaud the decision, but he should have just done it and kept quiet. He does not scare anyone except Americans.

garage mahal said...

Campaign Obama said he would increase the troops in Afghanistan.

The Left knew that.


Really? I don't ever recall him saying that on the campaign trail. Do you?

madawaskan said...

garage-

Damn it- the guy confuses me-I already had to edit my comment to this-

Obama had such a long pregnant pause before deciding -so now he gets credit for doing what he said he would do during the campaign.

[Allen S. and Salamandyr inspired bad literary device.]

Campaign Obama said he would increase the troops in Afghanistan.

The Left knew that.

Unless he did that Dr. Jekyll and Hyde routine like he did on missile defense and said everything-which makes him...

fill in the ________.

The guy is starting to really scare me.

[I originally wrote now he gets credit for going against what he siad he would do.]

holdfast said...

From what I've read and heard, McChrystal seems to think that he will have enough troops with these additions. Since I don't know the details, I will give him and Obama the benefit of the doubt on this one. I am far more concerned about whether we have the will to win, and the fortitude to do what is necessary to win. I have recently read several disturbing stories about the ROEs. They are from admittedly biased sources so I am not prepared to give them 100% credibility, but if they are even half true then I think we have a dangerous policy of fighting with at least one arm tied behind our back. Fortunately, a change in ROEs is something that can be accomplished quickly and could be a real morale booster used in conjunction with the surge. A speech to the troops by Obama, or even Gates, to that effect could help dispel doubts about whether we have the will to win. It is not to late to do that - last night's speech does not have to be the final word.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Really? I don't ever recall him saying that on the campaign trail. Do you?

Selective amnesia is so disconcerting isn't it? You should get that checked out.

"In his first interview since arriving in Afghanistan on Saturday, Obama said on CBS's "Face The Nation" that conditions now warrant reducing the number of troops in Iraq and shifting them to Afghanistan.

"I think we have to seize that opportunity. Now's the time for us to do it," Obama said. "If we wait until the next administration, it could be a year before we get those additional troops on the ground here in Afghanistan and I think that would be a mistake. I think the situation is getting urgent enough that we've got to start doing something now."



Gee if it was so urgent when Bush was President, how did it suddenly become not urgent when Obama became President? Hmmmm???

AllenS said...

holdfast,

The ROEs come from the top down.

Veeshir said...

"Up to now, the president hadn’t done anything to upset any of the constituency groups of the Democratic party."

I think there's a certain group of marriage-minded, "just ask, we'll tell" folks who would disagree.


Turing word "fedia".
Heh, that's a great contraction.

madawaskan said...

garage-

He said during the campaign that the Afghanistan war was a war of necessity and that he would send more troops. At least I thought he said that.

Maybe that wasn't Campaign Obama-but Senator Obama?

And listen if you can figure out what he said on missile defense during the campaign-the guy said everything and the media never called him on it-then I'll go hunt down the relative quotes on "Campaign Obama's" Afghanistan stance.

What happens with Obama is that he says basically what everyone wants to hear and a media that is 90% registered Democrat never, or rarely calls him on it.

It's how he won the election.

Darcy said...

I have read some references to the ROE too, holdfast. Troubling.

madawaskan said...

And garage I just read Dust Bunny's response-now you know why she is-

the Queen.

What she said-damn it.

Thank you DBQ.

But pre-emptively, I won't be one damn bit surprised if a Liberal commenter can find where he said something else...

Robert Cook said...

"Even a narcissistic, dishonest, demagogic, incompetent, shallow president will do something right once in awhile."

Bush, whom you're describing, never did anything right, and Obama certainly hasn't done so now.

Obama has merely cemented his membership in the war criminals' club, along with Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, et. al.

As Viet Nam was LBJ's Waterloo, so will Afghanistan be Obama's...but then LBJ at least had some successes on the domestic front, while Obama is failing at everything he pretends to be trying to do. Of course, this depends on one's perspective; he's failing if one thinks he's trying to serve the American public in any way. When one acknowledges that we don't factor at all into his administration's policies, and recognizes that Obama--as was true with his predecessors--serves the interests of our "shadow government," (as Chris Hedges calls them), the corporate interests who actually run things, one can argue that Obama has been quite successful so far, thank you very much.

Darcy said...

Seconding the kudos to DBQ. Always armed with facts. Love that.

AllenS said...

garage was just making a joke, kinda like the way AlphaLiberal does.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

garage was just making a joke, kinda like the way AlphaLiberal does

Jokes are supposed to funny and generally have a punchline or point. AL is never funny or amusing. Sometimes Garage is. This wasn't one of those times.

Cedarford said...

AllenS said...
With his surge then pullout at a certain time, I don't think he's winning over many conservatives or independents, either.


I think you will find that the demographic that favors endless war in a remote country of no geostrategic interest to us - with an expensive and dangerous logistical problem........is fairly minute in the Independent ranks, and splits the conservative community.
What you have is some that still believe the Bush spiel...that we must invade, occupy and spend trillions while taking tens of thousands of casualties in 9-12 "unstable Islamic lands" - Lest They Become a Sanctuary For a Thousand Evildoers! (ignoring 98% of the effort for 9/11 happened in Malaysia, Germany, the USA, and KSA for some last second "plug-ins".
But don't worry! We will be welcome as Liberators...just ask the Iraqis and Pashtuns!

=====================
rdkraus - This is just another terrible decision by President moron. Yes, let's send thousands more Americans to die for nothing in that God forsaken land. What a waste. A couple years from now we'll be fleeing up the ladders into helicopters, just like Vietnam.
We're nation building in Afg ?
It's insane. We're not going to build them a nice democracy in 18 months or 18 years.
Disgusting.
PS As even Tom Friedman says, we don't have the money to rebuild their world and ours, and ours should come first. We owe it to our kids, not theirs.


Correct.
rdkraus points out the future is a new round of prosperous Americans at slight risk of terrorism or a round of a new generation of Americans in a decaying country with massive debts, lower standard of living than their parents, dying in droves from lack of healthcare...but at slightly less risk from Evildoer Islamoids in remote lands....

===================
ricpic - ricpic said...
This is a tremendous victory for the International Left. The leader of It's American wing has just signaled that the West, the Left's nemesis, has caved to Islam, the Left's natural ally. He's even given a date specific.


Shades of McArthur strutting about giving speeches about invading China and starting WWIII because "There is No Substitute of Victory". Or those Birchers who accused Eisenhower of "caving to the Commies" by not starting WWII to "rescue and give democracy to the noble Hungarian freedom-lovers".
Or Nixon, charged by hysterical war-loving zealots of "appeasing the enemy" by winding down Vietnam, giving up "our essential nerve gas and anthrax and smallpox stockpiles", Detente with China and Russia "Chamberlain would have been proud of".

AllenS said...

Obviously, I'm not that funny either.

peter hoh said...

Only a moron Dem would have expected Obama to pull out of or draw down in Afghanistan. He campaigned for this war. Now he owns it.

To have expected otherwise reveals a profound naivete.

peter hoh said...

And here's the critique I'd love to see from my conservative friends: Bush wasn't able to deal with Afghanistan in 7 years. What makes Obama think he can deal with it in 18 months?

madawaskan said...

Na-I got it.

garage and DTL play a long game, but they've got some serious competition.

Cookie could take the cake.

Darcy said...

A very good question, Peter Hoh.

edutcher said...

Anthony said...

Someone should send all these angry Obama supporters to YouTube and type in Obama Afghanistan 2008.

What part of "I will send more troops to Afghanistan" did they not understand?


A Ranger squad is running 7 guys these days, last I heard. Sending one of them would sending be more troops.

The 40,000 McChrystal requested was predicated on a specific plan; that number will not be all combat infantry, there will be engineers, medics, QM, admin people also.

The 40,000 number is interesting only because it's about the number required for a full division (15,000) and all necessary non-divisional support troops - this is a formula going back to WWII. My guess is that cutting the number by 1/4 - one brigade these days - may put a crimp in McChrystal's plans.

We'll see.

In any case, Bambi tried with this to have something for everybody and will end up with nothing for anybody. The idea we'll send troops over there and have them turn right around and come back makes no sense, whether you're for the troops (or hope, for the good of the country, it works) or not.

And, of course, the Lefties will go berserk.

Beth said...

....

And since he ran as something of a hawk in Afghanistan, I don't see how that's going against any Democratic voters' expectations.

As they used to say in the Regiment of Voltigeurs and Foot-Riflemen, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

Robert Cook said...

Obama has merely cemented his membership in the war criminals' club, along with Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, et. al.

Remember I said the Lefties would start up the LBJ club again?

It's started already.

WV "deall" What usually comes after "Shut up and...".

former law student said...

Gee if it was so urgent when Bush was President, how did it suddenly become not urgent when Obama became President?

In February, a month after being sworn in, Obama announced he was sending 17,000 more troops to the 36,000 then in Afghanistan. Not fast enough for you?

Not enough to do the job, but just some.

He has also clearly signaled to any Afghani who might consider fighting against the Taleeebon with the U.S. that if they do this they might as well be signing their death warrants because we do not plan to stand behind them longer than 18 months.

18 months is the end of Obama's surge, not the abandonmnent of Afghanistan.

McChrystal wanted 40,000 more troops -- for what purpose we do not know. Obama's sending him 30K, plus is negotiating for 10K more from our allies. From Time magazine:

There are currently more than 110,000 foreign soldiers in Afghanistan, anchored by a 68,000-strong U.S. force. The other members of the 43-nation, NATO-led coalition provide some 42,000 troops. The Afghan army currently numbers about 94,000, but the government wants a force of 134,000 by October 2010, rising to 232,000 by 2013.

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1944596,00.html#ixzz0YYQzaxIR

Obviously when your allies outnumber your own nation's forces, there's a commitment problem.

peter hoh said...

Anyone who thinks Obama should have given McChrystal the full 40,000 he asked for gets bonus points if they can point to anything they ever wrote in support of Shinseki.

Dave said...

@ Paul Snively

You would not have heard me saying any such thing about Bush during his term. Quite the opposite. (I was against the Iraqi war at its creation, but supported the surge).

And you'll note I'm not saying Obama shouldn't listen to his generals. He clearly has. But he's listened to others as well.

One must also remember that these things negotiations. McChrystal would know this. You don't achieve his rank without knowing how to work the bureaurocracy.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

To answer my own question:

"Gee if it was so urgent when Bush was President, how did it suddenly become not urgent when Obama became President? Hmmmm???
"

Obama wanted to pressure BUSH into making a big troop committment to Afghanistan.

That way the Democrats would be able to win politically whether Obama became President or not.

1. If Obama doesn't win and it is McCain the Dems would further purposely cripple the war effort in an attempt to make the Republican Administration look bad and lose the war on terror with the added bonus of blaming it all on BUSH.

2. If Obama does win, and then he personally cripples the effort to actually win and declares the Afghan situation a complete debacle....he can blame it on BUSH. Bush didn't commit enough troops or Bush put them in the wrong places or Bush was too slow. etc etc etc.

However, by Bush NOT making this decision in the waning months of his Presidency (I seem to recall that he was a bit busy with the economy at the time) and allowing the next administration to deal with Afghanistan.....Obama gets to eat it.

Obama now owns this war and he was all like...

"Oh Crap!!! now I have to make the decision".

Dither dither dither..

"How can I do this so I can lose the war but not really look like I'm losing the war, not piss off my anti war base and still try to blame Bush??? OMG, my head is going to explode. I know.....I'll take Michelle on a half million dollar date night!. That'll distract 'em"

I personally think that Bush and his administration with the help of Rove, were onto the Democrats and trick-fucked them.

Darcy said...

"SHINSEKI!!!!!"

*sigh*

Paul Snively is soooo right.

MadisonMan said...

Oh Crap!!! now I have to make the decision

Well, now that he's made the decision, do you support it?

It's a simple yes/no question.

peter hoh said...

Darcy, is it not possible for one to think that Shinseki and McChrystal are both right about the troop strength necessary?

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Well, now that he's made the decision, do you support it?

It's a simple yes/no question.


Yes AND NO.

Yes in that he finally has decided to add more troops as has been requested. About effing time.

No in that he hasn't added enough troops according the amounts requested.

And NO in that he has waited too long and it will take about 6 months to get the full ramp up of troops, supplies and support staff.

AND DOUBLE NO in that he has set an artifical time line for withdrawal that signals weakness and an intention to be defeated before we even begin the surge.

So Yes and No.

Obama is a weenie.

Joe said...

If Afghanistan was a true threat to our national security, you don't put in 30,000 troops, you put in 300,000 troops and bomb the shit out of ever square yard of the country.

Afghanistan isn't a threat to our national security; it's just a death trap for thousands of young men and women who will die for no damn reason.

We ARE repeating the errors of Vietnam, including having a general who is arrogant enough to believe that he has the answer.

One difference is that LBJ was a rabid anti-communist. I can't tell what Obama believes in. My gut feeling is that Obama knows this is a lost cause, but doesn't want to appear wimpy so will have service men and women die for his ego. As has been pointed out, this is what Carter did.

peter hoh said...

Joe, you think Obama should do like Reagan, and pull our troops out of the failed state which they were sent in to protect?

Darcy said...

Yes, Peter, it is. If you do, I am impressed. Two question for you, though, if I may(and I don't know the answer to the first): Was Shinseki in the same position as McChrystal was as far as relative weight of recommendation? Do you think that McChrystal's recommendation was for 40,000 troops? I read somewhere that was the minimum request.

former law student said...

Obama wanted to pressure BUSH into making a big troop committment to Afghanistan.

And Bush did. He announced in September, 2008, he was sending an additional 4,500 (not a typo) troops to Afghanistan by January 2009.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122092531460713307.html

...Bush NOT making this decision in the waning months of his Presidency (I seem to recall that he was a bit busy with the economy at the time)

Easy decision, like my decision not to buy a Gulfstream this year -- no more horses in the barn. You keep going to war for eight years with the same army you have, you use it up and wear it out.

former law student said...

If Afghanistan was a true threat to our national security, you don't put in 30,000 troops, you put in 300,000 troops and bomb the shit out of ever square yard of the country.

1. We don't have 300,000 troops. 2. The problem is not Afghanistan but a powerless Afghanistan, one that can't take care of the Taliban, one controlled by al-Qaeda, etc.

garage mahal said...

8yrs - zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz Afghaniwhat?

Today - 30,000 troops? It's not enough! Took too long!

peter hoh said...

Darcy, Shinseki was Army chief of staff at the time. That's further up the food chain than the position McCrhystal currently holds.

peter hoh said...

And Darcy, the difference between 40K and 30K is a lot smaller than the difference between what Rumsfeld wanted and what Shinseki thought was necessary.

The Surge in Iraq pretty much confirmed Shinseki's estimation of what was required to secure Iraq.

Joe said...

Joe, you think Obama should do like Reagan, and pull our troops out of the failed state which they were sent in to protect?

We went to Afghanistan to overthrow the Taliban and neuter al Quaida. We did that in short order (and the most effective means was giving suitcases of money to various warlords.

I believe that we should pull our troops out with the message that next time, we're not going to even try to nation build. We will just kill you and leave. (A small warning to Pakistan is also in order--if we ever perceive that your nuclear arsenal is threatened by fanatics of any order, we will come and take them from you by force. And we won't stick around.)

And yes, one of Reagan's biggest blunders was putting troops in Lebanon, especially with the hand waving, fuzzy orders they were given.

(War requires total commitment to the capitulation of your enemy. If you aren't willing to do that, just pretending gets lots of people killed for no reason. See Vietnam, Lebanon and Somalia.)

Dave said...

BTW, I hear all these complaints about Obama taking so long to make his decision. He started his review in September and made his decision at the end of November. A shade under three months.

The timeline is very similar to that of Bush when he made the decision on the surge. On 15 November 2006 Stephen Hadley said in an article for Bloomberg that a strategy review had been underway for 'weeks'. Bush announced his decision on 10 January 2007. At a minimum, it took at least 2 months, but probably took longer. And that was for a war that Bush knew intimately.

Joe said...

The problem is not Afghanistan but a powerless Afghanistan

It already is powerless. Do people have any conception just how poorly we control the ground in that hell hole? Without a massive influx of soldiers who have a clear take and hold strategy without mercy, this won't change. Nations and empires have learned that sad lesson for millenia, we are no different. I just hope we don't get slaughtered like the British in the nineteenth century.

My proposal; we pull out. If the Taliban take over and don't cause us problems, fine. Otherwise, we whack them fast and quick. We are pretty damn good at that. In the meantime, we give millions of dollars in cash to various warlords to keep that from happening. That's really how we overthrew the Taliban in the first place.

If Afghanis want a decent country, it's their problem, not ours. If they don't care, then we shouldn't care for them.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

hear all these complaints about Obama taking so long to make his decision. He started his review in September and made his decision at the end of November. A shade under three months

Dave. In July 2008 Obama made the statement that it was URGENT that we Bush needed to act now and not wait for the next administration (read my link at 11:03),

If it was that urgent during the campaign, then there is NO excuse for waiting until almost a year into his administration to begin "thinking" about taking action. NO EXCUSE at all, unless he was lying about it being urgent.

Either immediate action was needed and he didn't take it. (Why did he START his review in September isntead of right away when he became Commander in Chief.) Or immediate action wasn't needed and he used the topic as a talking point to get elected.

Which way do you want it to be? You can't have it both ways.

Darcy said...

Thanks, Peter. I think there were obviously many mistakes made in Iraq. I'm glad we finally got it right.

I still have no idea what our goal is in Afghanistan, and I am really at this point, worried about our troops over there and also the Afghanis who have been working with us.

Obama's speech did nothing to comfort me in this regard.

mccullough said...

Cedarford has been making a lot of sense on this issue (other than his anti-semitic asides on the oboe).

We'd do more to prevent another terror attack in the U.S. by the targeted killing of fundamentalists in London, Paris, Hamburg, and New York and by bribing/threatening the financial institutions that faciliate Al-Qaeda's transactions.

It's not like a Third Reich will emerge in Afghanistan if and when we're gone and we'll be fighting them with tanks, planes, and infantry in 25 years.

Iraq at least has oil. So does Saudi Arabia, which I suppose is why we haven't invaded them, though that is the cauldron of radical Islam.

This is as mindless a proxy war with radical Islam as Nam was with the Soviets.

peter hoh said...

Steve Coll argues that Afghanistan was most stable when it had a weak federal government. Perhaps we need to stop pouring money into trying to build a strong central government there, and instead focus on strengthening regional governance.

Link.

Der Hahn said...

Peter Hoh - In the spirit of your support for Shinseki, maybe you could provide some evidence that you were in favor of Obama implementing McChrystal's recommendations without review?

Thanks in advance.

Dave said...

@ DBQ

But he did take immediate action & conducted a review upon taking office. (Search Obama Afghanistan March 2009).

This past winter he ordered more troops (21K) & in the spring replaced McKiernan with McChrystal. It was in part McChrystal's assessment after taking charge that Afhghanistan was worse than he thought, along with the results of August's election that intiated September's review.

It's simply not accurate to say he waited more than year.

peter hoh said...

mccullough, I thought that treating terrorism like it's a police problem was only for the John Kerry, liberal weeny defeatocrats. It takes war. Permanent war. And occupation. Permanent occupation. Anything less is not patriotic.

And asking to pay for it now is not patriotic, either.

garage mahal said...

And asking to pay for it now is not patriotic, either..

Or actually having to fight in it.

peter hoh said...

Der Hahn, now it's got to be support without review?

I think that McChrystal's 40K was a reasonable request.

You can dig all you want, but I don't think you can find that I was critical of McChrystal's request. There are plenty of neo-cons who poo-pooed Shinseki's estimates while giving their full-throated support for Rumsfeld's plans.

Of course, they ended up supporting Shinseki's numbers when it was repackaged as "The Surge."

MadisonMan said...

Peter, I've read/heard somewhere recently that that is the plan. Bypass the central Govt and give funds directly to the regionals. I would think that would also tamp down corruption in Kabul.

Can I just add, appropos of almost nothing, that I am fed up to the bejeesus with the people saying Pockistan instead of Packistan? I blame Dan Rather for this -- his silly trip to Afghanistan back in the 80s when he started saying Cobble instead of Ka-BOOL. Until all those foreign correspondents start saying Paree instead of Paris, I will think of them as just another set of poseurs.

peter hoh said...

And another thing: I think we ought to start buying all the poppies that the Afghan farmers can grow, rather than wasting money trying to eradicate them and driving the trade underground.

Darcy said...

Peter, were supporters of President Bush really poo-pooing Shinseki's estimates? I thought the whole kerfuffle was about whether he was "retired" for having an unpopular opinion, among many? I also seem to recall the idea that he was retired over it was debunked?

War is obviously unpredictable. Again, I think everyone, including President Bush and Rumsfeld, acknowledge mistakes in Iraq.

I'm disturbed by the reduction of the final decision on troops because I believe it to be a reduction on the "riskiest" recommendation. I also have a big problem with announcing how long they are going to be there.

peter hoh said...

Rumsfeld admits to mistakes? Really?

"Mistakes were made" does not count.

Dave said...

@ Darcy

"When Gen. Eric Shinseki, Army chief of staff, told a Senate committee this month that several hundred thousand troops might be needed to carry out missions in a postwar Iraq, his comments were rejected as "wildly off the mark" by Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz."

From here: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,80859,00.html

Darcy said...

@Dave

Sorry...I know about that. I was unclear. I knew that his recommendations were rejected. I was referring to people like us?

And yes, Peter, I think Rumsfeld is big enough to admit mistakes and to understand war is not any kind of exact science. I continue to think he and former President Bush are very decent men who did the best they could. I always had the sense that they agonized over their decisions and felt deeply the human cost.

edutcher said...

Once again, Shinseki wanted 10 divisions for Iraq - the size of the entire Regular Army, then and now. Needless to say, it was viewed as unreasonable and unworkable.

Shinseki made a mess of his tour of as Army COS (check out the archives at sites like paratrooper.net) with a lot of inept, as well as unpopular, initiatives; he was Willie's man and administered that way.

Also, anyone who wants to quit playing politics and look at what happened will see it was the surge tactics that won the day; they were showing good results long before the first of the surge brigades ever got near Iraq. The brigades were to be used to protect those who came out for the Coalition. Those who want to quote McCain (truth in advertising, I supported him, reluctantly) should remember he's a carrier guy and infantry or counter-insurgent warfare isn't his forte.

WV "zienc" What's in a French pen.

peter hoh said...

Wolfowitz, responding to Shinseki's testimony (before the Senate Armed Services Committee) that it would take several hundred thousand troops to secure Iraq:

But some of the higher-end predictions that we have been hearing recently, such as the notion that it will take several hundred thousand U.S. troops to provide stability in post-Saddam Iraq, are wildly off the mark. First, it’s hard to conceive that it would take more forces to provide stability in post-Saddam Iraq than it would take to conduct the war itself and to secure the surrender of Saddam’s security forces and his army. Hard to imagine. [2/27/03]

Darcy said...

Interesting, edutcher.

And I'm losing your point (and perhaps mine as well), Peter. :)

Roger J. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Roger J. said...

Point of order, please: Rick Shenseki was the Army Chief of Staff (and NOT fired by Rumsfeld, BTW--his four year tour was up). The Service Chief's of staff are NOT in the operational chain of command which runs from the Unified Command CINCs thru the Chairman to the Sec Def and ultimate the President. This was a result of the Goldwater reform of 1986.

None of this bears on the fact that Shenseki was right or wrong, but it is helpful to understand how war fighting works. The service chiefs exist to provide trained trooops and equipment in support of the Unified Commanders.

edutcher said...

Excellent point, Rog.

Fox headline -

Gates: Withdrawal May Move

Pentagon to 'evaluate' whether military can meet goal of starting to withdraw troops from Afghanistan by July 2011


That should get Murtha's and Kerry's attention.

As they say in the Navy, "Clear the decks for action"

Cedarford said...

Joe - We went to Afghanistan to overthrow the Taliban and neuter al Quaida. We did that in short order (and the most effective means was giving suitcases of money to various warlords.

Correct. Then somehow we got bogged down into a war to give the Noble Afghan people democracy, roads, and free the women of Burquas..whether the tribes of the women wanted it or not.
Then we got the bumbling Dubya with his Special Friend Ahmed Karzai unendingly feted with State dinners, hailed as a Great Man in State of the Union addresses and lots of war triumphalist talk about how the Heroes of Dildo Force were seeking and routing all Evildoers.
And suddenly we woke up and 8 years had passed. And found Bush's hero was corrupt to the bone, the Taliban was everywhere because Karzais "model democracy" had excluded 95% of Pashtuns from power-sharing, and the "Evildoers" were mostly long-gone in the 7 previous years, safe under the Pak ISI and Bush's "dear friend" Musharaff.


Joe - I believe that we should pull our troops out with the message that next time, we're not going to even try to nation build. We will just kill you and leave.

Agree. Had we just gone in and done what we did then left with a few CIA and spec ops people to use Northn Alliance and warlords to capture a few and dispatch the rest of the AQ remnants - it would have been a powerful lesson to Islamoids.

Joe - (A small warning to Pakistan is also in order--if we ever perceive that your nuclear arsenal is threatened by fanatics of any order, we will come and take them from you by force. And we won't stick around.)

That would be difficult. It's in the "easier said than done" category...like "we will simply go in and take away the German military's weapons" in WWII. Yes, it can be done, but (1)We have to know where the nukes are (2) Be prepared to take massive casualties on a Civil War/WWII nature (3)Be prepared for being in the middle of a major war with India and Pakistan, with 80KT nuke weapon detonations taking out subcontinent cities, a US aircraft carrier group or two, US people in Kabul and at Bahgram.

Joe - And yes, one of Reagan's biggest blunders was putting troops in Lebanon, especially with the hand waving, fuzzy orders they were given.

The Israelis did a deception job on the US and France trying to drag them into the war on Israel's side. Once Reagan and Mitterand knew they had been deceived on the "peacekeeping" turned into ploy to use them as military adjuncts of the Israelis and their proxy forces - Reagan did one of the smartest things he ever did. (or we should say one of the smartest things James Baker and Cap Weinberger ever did, convincing Reagan not to get suckered into a long ME War) Despite 241 mostly sleeping Marines turned into dead meat in their Beruit barracks, Reagan pulled forces out. For the French, of course, it was a naturally easier decsion.

peter hoh said...

And here's the best criticism of Shinseki that I found.

Darcy said...

Thanks, Peter. I'll check both out.

Roger J. said...

I am on C4s side on this one with respect to tactics--our best course of action in Afghanistan are special operations types not bound by rules of engagement who can bring the wrath of god via hellfire on al queda and taliban types (including their families if they are foolish enough to be in the vicinity).

edutcher said...

Roger J. said...

I am on C4s side on this one with respect to tactics--our best course of action in Afghanistan are special operations types not bound by rules of engagement...

Rog, if you check out the story of the 3 SEALs about to go before a court martial, you may find a hole in that strategem.

See http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,576646,00.html

WV "merypact" What Althouse and Meade had before 8/3/09 :)

Roger J. said...

edutcher--you are the realist here! Our troopers live with some really constraining ROE.

Darcy said...

That's a great point, edutcher. The prosecution of those SEALS, based on the information available so far, is chilling.

knox said...

From what I've read and heard, McChrystal seems to think that he will have enough troops with these additions. Since I don't know the details, I will give him and Obama the benefit of the doubt on this one.


I guess that's what I'm doing, just hoping for the best.

Our troops turned it around really fast in Iraq. I wouldn't want us to pull out of Afghanistan without giving them the same chance. Perhaps the 30,000 is not giving them an adequate chance. We'll have to see.

We go to war with the Commander-in-Chief we have. I expected Obama to shut it down altogether, so I remain pleasantly surprised by this decision. Despite the riskiness of his strategy, I can't but be supportive.

I am NOT trying to sound high-and-mighty here, I understand many of the misgivings voiced here. But this is one issue where I feel like I have to keep my own misgivings to myself.

Robert Cook said...

"...special operations types not bound by rules of engagement..."

Who says "special operations types" are not bound by the rules of engagement?

What you're really advocating is for crimes to be committed by unknown agents acting for unknown purposes.

Roger J. said...

Robert Cook: As Edutcher points above, spec ops forces are currently bound by ROE. I am sugesting that highly trained special operations forces do not require ROE and as uniformed soldiers are not "unknown agents," and are acting for explicitly known purposes. You are most welcome to apply the term "crimes" if you like.

Robert Cook said...

Is this codified in U.S. Law that "special operations types" are not bound by rules of engagement, or is this just something they get away with because what they do is hidden?

If they're out there committing assassinations, I think there's no question but that we have to call their actions what they are...crimes.

Cedarford said...

Robert Cook - If they're out there committing assassinations, I think there's no question but that we have to call their actions what they are...crimes.

Cook, you are a fucking idiot.

Killing enemy leaders in wartime is not a "crime". Let me guess...If we finally found Binnie or Ayman al-Zawahiri in Pakistan and took him out with a missile...you would be the lone asshole at the medal ceremony for the guys that took him out demanding they be arrested for "crimes! crimes! crimes!".

And the sick thing is that - in our present strange universe - if the 3 SEALs had just whacked the Islamoid..they would be home free. But they risked their lives to capture the Islamoid, the Islamoid mouthed off, and one of the guys slugged him...Hence charges.

This creates profound new perverse disincentives to adhere to the spirit of Geneva.
If the enemy can get away with everything, and our guys nothing - not even a fat lip inflicted, why should we honor a reciprocal treaty in breach?

I think the guy that smacked Saddam to the ground after he spit on one of his captors escaped prosecution. But that was in a different Administration..

Now, "when in doubt, take 'em out" has to be the top survival (physical, career) thought of a US soldier facing the Islamoid enemy.

edutcher said...

As far as I know, all spec ops troops part of any of the Armed Forces (Ranger, SEAL, SF, Psyops, CCT, etc.) are subject to the UCMJ and any ROE established unless there are variances specifically created for them. Nobody in uniform is going around offing people in the manner you see in the movies with the Governator or whomever.

The CIA may be a different story, but they have restrictions, as well - witness the effect of Frank Church and Co. thirty years ago.

Robert Cook said...

If we have "special ops types" in the field, observant of no rules of engagement and wacking guys, how do we know who they're wacking? It's very convenient to say they're taking out "enemy leaders," but if we fuck up and kill some innocent schnook, who's going to be accountable, who's even going to know?

This is why there are rules of engagement.

Of course, with our drone bombings and "smart bombs" we're killing innocents--children and brides and grooms and their wedding parties, and such like--and no one is penalized, no one cares, so what the fuck! I guess we've given ourselves the "00" license to kill, kill, KILL! They're not Americans, so fuck 'em and kill'em, eh?

Roger J. said...

I guess I started this, riffing on C4s comment--but Mr. Cook: Special ops forces are our absolutely best trained soldiers--they are not some dirty dozen types you might see in some movie.

You train them, brief them, but ultimately they are on the ground and they have to make decisions. They do a superlative job.

Wars are not marquis of queensbury engagements. they rely on killing as many bad people as you can and regretably some innocent people may die in the mix.

Now contrast this with the 8th air force bombing operations in Germany during WWII and tell me about rules of engagement.

Cedarford said...

Robert Cook - It's very convenient to say they're taking out "enemy leaders," but if we fuck up and kill some innocent schnook, who's going to be accountable, who's even going to know?..
Of course, with our drone bombings and "smart bombs" we're killing innocents--children and brides and grooms and their wedding parties, and such like--


One of the hardest things to convince ignorant American civilians of is the fact that there are no "innocents" in war. A young man does not become guilty of anything nor his life less valuable....by act of serving his people in duty to them, even combat.
There are combatants, and non-combatants. And both may be killed or properly let live, in a set of very different circomstances.

Another asinine Lefty belief is "proportionality" - which takes the Geneva and Hugue idea that it is disproportionate and far too punitive on non-combatants to use force in vast excess to a "reasonable" level in or around civilian population. Flattening a town with 1,180 high explosive artillery rounds because a sniper with a 7.62X54 Dragunov rifle is somewhere in it - would be excessive.
Lefties, however, take that to anal obsessive extremes - arguing that if an Islamoid shoots at you 4 times and misses, you are under "proportionality", entitled to take exactly 4 shots back at them...taking care, of course, to miss with each shot.

AllenS said...

Having a conscience, never won a war, you have to kill. If you can't understand that about war, you shouldn't comment about war. War is not a TV show, nor is it a video game.

The Drill SGT said...

edutcher said...
As far as I know, all spec ops troops part of any of the Armed Forces (Ranger, SEAL, SF, Psyops, CCT, etc.) are subject to the UCMJ and any ROE established unless there are variances specifically created for them.


riffing off of C-4, Roger and Allen.

Of course SOF forces have ROE, but they are NOT the same as the ones for line dogs.

Every one of the shooter SOF (well at least SEAL, SF, and Delta) guys is senior NCO or officer, whose judgement has been tested under extreme pressure and found to be sound.

They make tough calls, in situations where they are out numbered 100 to 1. The measure of survival is the application of extreme violence applied to a focused target with total surprise and then getting the F_ck out of town. Sometimes prisoners are taken, sometimes they are not. Depends on the mission parameters. But nobody but their immediate chain of command should second guess those decisions, because they are literally life and death ones for the whole team.

Cook, you're an idiot. I think that may be the first time I have made a personal attack in the 7 years I have been posting, but you are.

The Drill SGT said...

I guess we've given ourselves the "00" license to kill, kill, KILL! They're not Americans, so fuck 'em and kill'em, eh?

I guess you have never commanded troops. Yes, there are our guys and the rest. My first job as a commander was to make sure my guys all came home. Second priority was to ensure that the combatant bad guys didn't. Third priority was to avoid as much as possible collateral damage to people and property. In some cases rule 2 and 3 reversed. I luckily was never in a position where rule 1 wasn't rule 1.

At the time, that is what my Commander in Chief, considering all the mothers of soldiers, demanded. If he had decided otherwise, I would have found a new job. I don't think any commander would take the job if rule 1 wasn't rule 1.

AllenS said...

ROE for line dogs, means this: Is anybody outside of the squad, platoon looking?

The Drill SGT said...

AllenS said...
ROE for line dogs, means this: Is anybody outside of the squad, platoon looking?


As SGT Phil Esterhaus always said at roll call.

"Hey, Let's be careful out there",

meaning,

"do unto others before they do unto you".

or

"anything worth shooting is worth shooting twice. Bullets are cheap, lives are expensive" :)

at the squad level, things are very clear.

Jason said...

Let me pile on again: Cook, you are an idiot.

Violating an ROE != a war crime under Geneva/Hague conventions. It MAY be, and it MAY be a violation of UCMJ (failure to obey a direct order) but US ROE are FAR more restrictive than required by international law.

And in case I wasn't clear the first time, Cook, you are an idiot.