I supported Obama last year because, among other things, I believed he was committed to finishing the war in Afghanistan successfully. As an opponent of the Iraq invasion, he had a kind of immunity from the left that McCain, sadly, would have been lacking. I was happy that Obama displayed wisdom off the coast of Somalia in letting the Navy do what it had trained, for many years, to do, dropping three pirates and rescuing their American captor. I was happy to see that Obama kept on Secretary Gates, who has played well considering the cards he has been dealt. And I was happy to see that Obama appointed General McChrystal in place of General McKiernan -- not because I was unhappy with McKiernan, but because McChrystal seemed like a better fit. Sadly, it appears Obama may be wavering in this commitment. From Bill Roggio, who craps bigger than any five Newsweek bureau chiefs combined. :
General McChrystal's assessment hit President Obama's desk at the end of August, almost three months after he took command. And yet now in the last half of September, the decision on additional forces has yet to be submitted to the administration.
Today, the military is perceiving that the administration is punting the question of a troop increase in Afghanistan, and the military is even questioning the administration's commitment to succeed in Afghanistan. The leaking of the assessment and the report that McChrystal would resign if he is not given what is needed to succeed constitute some very public pushback against the administration's waffling on Afghanistan.
It now appears that Obama is more concerned with enacting a massive new health care entitlement -- criticism of which is beyond the scope of this post -- than with finishing the war in Afghanistan successfully. It would be a tragedy if, like Johnson in Vietnam, Obama truly is ambivalent about winning the war; unwilling to pay the short term price in political capital to get the tools McChrystal needs, because that capital is needed for the domestic agenda. This Wikipedia entry all of a sudden looks eerily familiar:
Politically, Johnson closely watched the public opinion polls. His goal was not to adjust his policies to follow opinion, but rather to adjust opinion to support his policies. Until the Tet Offensive of 1968, he systematically downplayed the war: few speeches, no rallies or parades or advertising campaigns. He feared that publicity would charge up the hawks who wanted victory, and weaken both his containment policy and his higher priorities in domestic issues.