1300 US servicemembers for starters, that is how many died since Obama initiated his faux surge. One thousand, three hundred US troops have been sacrificed in a cause this President didn't believe in and that is a disgrace. The link goes to a Huffington Post story and if he has lost them, a true accounting may be forthcoming.
We may actually get a look at the cold political calculations that led to thirty thousand additional US troops being sent to Afghanistan to prove that Barack Obama was not the king of cut and run. His every pronouncement on the Iraq war as a Senator was wrongheaded and would have certainly cost us a victory there had they been followed. So as a candidate he couldn't afford to be calling for an end to both Iraq and Afghanistan. So he decided to make Afghanistan the good war and pledged to shift our focus from the nascent victory in Iraq, which called unnecessary, to the necessary war in Afghanistan, where he would fight the good fight.
After he took office in 2009, Obama had to back up all his big talk and that was not an easy task. There were grave political dangers and sadly those took precedence over the actual national security concerns and the lives of our troops. As I wrote in 2010 in the Washington Times:
President Obama lost the war in Afghanistan during the “Great Dithering” of 2009. This was the period when he had all his advisers, including noted national security strategists David Axelrod and Robert Gibbs, huddled together loosely for about nine months. They were trying to find the most politically viable way to deliver on Mr. Obama’s campaign promises to personally track down Osama bin Laden and put his head on a pike while simultaneously running the corrupt Karzai regime out of town. Well, they failed in those efforts and now are simply trying to find a way to start leaving in time for Mr. Obama’s re-election campaign.
Now he, well the SEALs, did manage to shoot OBL in the eye, but Karzai remains and even worse the Taliban are not just resurgent, but running large swathes of the country and that increases greatly as we pack for the cut and run. Let's look at what Obama actually said when he announced the faux surge.
“We must deny al Qaeda a safe haven. We must reverse the Taliban’s momentum and deny it the ability to overthrow the government. And we must strengthen the capacity of Afghanistan’s security forces and government so that they can take lead responsibility for Afghanistan’s future.”
The jury is still out on al Qaeda but the Taliban's momentum is greater than it has been since they ran the Soviets out, daja vu anyone. And their ability to overthrow the government is not likely to be deterred by the tiny number of token troops Obama seems poised to leave behind. From Foreign Policy:
President Barack Obama listened to his generals the first time around; now he knows better. The Obama of 2009, new to the job, unsure of his relationship to the military and perhaps slightly overawed by his superstar commanders, David Petraeus and Stanley MacChrystal, agreed to send 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan in the name of a counterinsurgency campaign he didn't quite believe in. The Obama of 2013 is prepared to overrule the recommendation of his current commander, Gen. John Allen, and leave few -- if any -- troops behind after U.S. combat units pull out at the end of 2014. That's what's known as a learning curve.
The assertion that Petraeus and McChrystal won the argument about troops and strategy is ridiculous, they both noted that many times more troops and a valid commitment to winning were needed. But the recognition that nothing but a palace guard will be left behind seems unfortunately true. They can help load the helicopters on the roof of the embassy.
I made a video four years ago that was all too sadly prescient. I reminded Obama that campaign promises are not a good enough reason to send America's finest to die in a foreign land. I had absolutely no desire to be proved wrong and hoped if he was going to continue the fight, he would do so with the resolve and resources to win. Instead he sent too few troops and stamped their orders with an expiration date that ensured Taliban knew we were leaving and the Afghans would never trust us and join the fight. One thousand three hundred men and women sacrificed, for what?