Friday, November 13, 2009

The Cadidate vs. The President on Afghanistan

July 21, 2008:

KABUL, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Sen. Barack Obama said Sunday that United States needs to focus on Afghanistan in its battle against terrorism.

"The Afghan government needs to do more. But we have to understand that the situation is precarious and urgent here in Afghanistan. And I believe this has to be our central focus, the central front, on our battle against terrorism," Obama said Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation."

"I think one of the biggest mistakes we've made strategically after 9/11 was to fail to finish the job here, focus our attention here. We got distracted by Iraq," he said.

Obama said troop levels must increase in Afghanistan.

"For at least a year now, I have called for two additional brigades, perhaps three," he told CBS. "I think it's very important that we unify command more effectively to coordinate our military activities. But military alone is not going to be enough."

So sayeth Candidate Obama more than 15 months ago. So what had President Obama done on this "precarious and urgent" situation?

Uh, nothing. That "central focus on the battle against terrorism" seems to have blurred considerably, nearly to the point of myopia. In fact, his dithering on what to do is becoming dangerous:

A key adviser to NATO forces warned today that Barack Obama risks a Suez-style debacle in Afghanistan if he fails to deploy enough extra troops and opts instead for a messy compromise.

David Kilcullen, one of the world's leading authorities on counter-insurgency and an adviser to the British government as well as the US state department, said Obama's delay in reaching a decision over extra troops had been "messy". He said it not only worried US allies but created uncertainty the Taliban could exploit.

Speaking in an interview with the Guardian, he compared the president to someone "pontificating" over whether to send enough firefighters into a burning building to put a fire out.

I didn't think he had the foggiest notion of what he was doing as Candidate Obama and nothing that President Obama has done in the last 10 months has changed my mind. He's apparently making war decisions based on political calculations and nothing could be more injurious and demoralizing to those brave men and women waiting for reinforcements.

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