Tuesday, December 01, 2009

We Are In The Twilight Zone of Politics

Really. We are. I was on twitter during the President's speech and my lefty twitter friends are so upset at Obama. The "F" word is everywhere. On the right I see support, suspicion, and relief. The arguments I am hearing from the right seem pretty weak to me. They argue that we shouldn't do a "surge and leave," and you don't let the enemy know when you are exiting the stage. They will just wait you out. There is also the point that with the 18 month timeline just about the time we get all our troops in there, it will be time to start pulling them out. These things take time, you know. 18 months doesn't seem long enough. But despite all that, I still support the President and I am glad he made the decision he did. Like I said before, he sees the big picture that we don't have access to.

We have come into the twilight zone of politics though. Here are some statements by other leaders. The liberals are not happy. Republicans like Orrin Hatch say it isn't enough, and John McCain thinks the decision is just right. Obama is practically Goldilocks here.

As Andrew Ferguson points out in the Weekly Standard blog, Obama is the first Democratic president in forty years to call for a significant deployment of American troops in the national security interest of his country. This is big. It's historic actually. As I said yesterday, let's support our troops and back this President, even if we don't agree with him on anything else.

Here is the disgruntled Arlen Specter's statement tonight:

“I oppose sending 30,000 additional American troops to Afghanistan because I am not persuaded that it is indispensable in our fight against Al Qaeda. If it was, I would support an increase because we have to do whatever it takes to defeat Al Qaeda since they’re out to annihilate us. But if Al Qaeda can operate out of Yemen or Somalia, why fight in Afghanistan where no one has succeeded?

I disagree with the President’s two key assumptions: that we can transfer responsibility to Afghanistan after 18 months and that our NATO allies will make a significant contribution. It is unrealistic to expect the United States to be out in 18 months so there is really no exit strategy. This venture is not worth so many American lives or the billions it will add to our deficit.”

2)From Sen. Orrin Hatch sees politics involved in the timing of this:

It is evident the President's plan for Afghanistan has not maximized our forces' chances of success. Though the forces to be deployed have important capabilities that will have a meaningful effect on our counterinsurgency operations in the south and east of Afghanistan, the President has handicapped our forces by failing to provide the number of troops requested by his hand-picked commander, General McChrystal. Also concerning, the President's plan appears to set arbitrary withdrawal deadlines. History shows withdrawal decisions must be determined by the conditions on the ground, not arbitrary deadlines. Coincidentally, the President's arbitrary deadline assumes the war will be winding down and troops returning home just when the Administration is ramping up its campaign for re-election.

Sen. John McCain agrees with Obama:

“The President has made the right decision to embrace a counterinsurgency strategy for Afghanistan and to resource it properly. I think the 30,000 additional U.S. troops that will deploy as part of this mission, plus greater allied commitments, will enable us to reverse the momentum of the insurgency and create the conditions for success in Afghanistan. I support the President’s decision, and I think it deserves the support of all Americans, both Republicans and Democrats.

Then there are the Republicans who see a lack of commitment on Obama's part. I find that hard to believe. Obama can't possible WANT to fail. He wants to have victory in Afghanistan. I can't imagine a scenario where Obama would choose to be mired in a war that we are losing. But here is this Republican's take from NRO:

Jason Chaffetz, the freshman Republican congressman from Utah, who yesterday called for a troop pullout from Afghanistan — he's worried that this White House will simply not give our military there the resources they need and deserve — tells me tonight that President Obama “did not justify his case for 100,000 troops in Afghanistan” in his speech at West Point.

“Announcing the date of withdraw will give most a sense of his lack of commitment,” Congressman Chaffetz tells The Corner.

Echoing his comments yesterday, Chaffetz says: “I still worry he is trying to cut the cake in half. Mr. President, go big or go home.”

In the speech, the president “sounded like the bigger threat is in Pakistan and yet he offered no definitive solutions,” Chaffetz observes.

The congressman adds: “His praise of the United Nations would be laughable, if it wasn't so sad.”

Sen. Barbara Boxer:

"I support the president's mission and exit strategy for Afghanistan, but I do not support adding more troops because there are now 200,000 American, NATO and Afghan forces fighting roughly 20,000 Taliban and less than 100 al Qaeda."

Rep. Louise M. Slaughter:

"What I would have preferred to hear from the president is how he will bring our forces home within the next year. I see no good reason for us to send another 30,000 or more troops to Afghanistan when we have so many pressing issues – like our economy – to deal with in this country.

The U.S. government is already spending $3.6 billion a month on the war in Afghanistan. Sending an additional 30,000 troops will cost an extra $30 billion a year, which works out to roughly $1 million per soldier or Marine. The people who are complaining about the cost of health care reform should be more concerned about how much we are continuing to spend on these wars in Afghanistan and Iraq."

Gen. McChrystal seems to be saying that Obama has given him what he needed:

“The Afghanistan-Pakistan review led by the President has provided me with a clear military mission and the resources to accomplish our task. The clarity, commitment and resolve outlined in the President’s address are critical steps toward bringing security to Afghanistan and eliminating terrorist safe havens that threaten regional and global security.

“We face many challenges in Afghanistan, but our efforts are sustained by one unassailable reality: neither the Afghan people nor the international community want Afghanistan to remain a sanctuary for terror and violence. The coalition is encouraged by President Obama’s commitment and we remain resolute to empowering the Afghan people to reject the insurgency and build their own future.”

But it is Pelosi's statement that is the most amusing to me. First of all this chick cannot let go of Bush. She hardly knows what to do without him to push around anymore. Second of all, you can tell the rest of the statment is said through gritted teeth. You will notice that she does not say she agrees or that it's a good thing. She just points out bascially that Obama said what needed to be said. Then she says congress will take a good long look at it. Then she throws in a little kissy face to the troops for good measure. Such gobbly gook. Really:

"President Obama inherited a deteriorating situation in Afghanistan because the Bush Administration did not have a plan to get the job done.

"Tonight, the President articulated a way out of this war with the mission of defeating Al Qaeda and preventing terrorists from using Afghanistan and Pakistan as safe havens to again launch attacks against the United States and our allies. The President has offered President Karzai a chance to prove that he is a reliable partner. The American people and the Congress will now have an opportunity to fully examine this strategy.

"Our troops in Afghanistan and around the world have performed excellently; they have done everything that has been asked of them. As always, we are grateful and respectful of the enormous sacrifices our men and women in uniform, and their families, have made."

So there we have it. It's a mixed reaction. All we can do now is pray for our troops and our President.