Those are the words, when they come out of President Barack Obama’s mouth, should clue you in to the fact that he hasn’t said it before – he’s merely changing his mind.
If you hadn’t noticed, the war in Afghanistan isn’t all unicorns and rainbows. There’s more than three months left in the year and already 2009 will be the worst for U.S. casualties since the conflict began in 2001. Earlier this month, Obama’s hand-picked general, Stanley McChrystal, submitted a report calling for more troops for Afghanistan or the war would be lost.
This has created some interesting dynamics and revelations on the left side of American politics that for much of President George W. Bush’s term identified Afghanistan as the “right” war and the one we had to win.
Well, I think what’s really important here are two dates. The first is August 30. That’s when the McChrystal report was sent to Washington. That is three weeks ago. Obama has had a single meeting [on that report] since then.
He says he hasn’t reached a conclusion — I suppose because he is spending all his time preparing for Letterman and speeches to schoolchildren — to focus on a war in which our soldiers are in the field getting shot at and, as the president himself is saying, without a strategy.
Now, the other date is the 27th of March, when Obama gave a speech in the White House flanked by his Secretaries of Defense and State, in which he said, and I will read you this, because it is as if it never happened, "Today I’m announcing a comprehensive new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan."
So we for six months have been living under the new Obama strategy, of which he says today we have none. And his next sentence is, again in March, "This marks the conclusion of a careful policy review" — not the beginning, the end of the policy review.
So it has been his policy, and now he tells us we don’t have a cart and we don’t have a horse.
What’s happening here is he announced the strategy of counterinsurgency in March. He said at the time that we “cannot afford” an “Afghanistan that slides [back] into chaos.”
He said "My message to the terrorists who oppose us — We will defeat you," And now he’s not sure he wants to defeat them.
Escalation is a bad idea. The Democrats backed themselves into defending the idea of Afghanistan being The Good War because they felt they needed to prove their macho bonafides they called for withdrawal from Iraq. Nobody asked too many questions sat the time, including me. But none of us should forget that it was a political strategy, not a serious foreign policy.
There have been many campaign promises "adjusted" since the election. There is no reason that the administration should feel any more bound to what they said about this than all the other committments [sic] it has blithely turned aside in the interest of "pragmatism." [emphasis added]
While American men and women have been fighting and dying half a world away, Democrats were only supporting them because it was politically convenient.