Today the President of the Uited States said, “the safety of people around the world is at stake,” in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Most of the world yawned.
Next week the president will be in Europe for contentious G20 meetings and then on to a NATO conference. He should take all his white water rafting knowledge with him. Despite the unual ulta-polite European ways: Obama cannot expect any huge long term committment from his NATO allies on Afgahnistan; and Pakistan is a sovereign nation that has problems to solve on their own, most European leaders think.
The U.S. has already been in Afghanistan for seven years and has struggled every step of the way to gain more help from European and other allies. But the allies are now tired and much poorer than seven years ago. Their focus is on the economic recovery and not much else.
President Obama will be the new guy next week. He’s untested and he has a lot on his plate: much of it he put there himself. Already China is wondering how Obama can possibly repay all his debt to do all his many projects.
But Obama has made it clear he will do everything at once: stimulus, new bank regulations, health care, education, environment, and energy.
His team will also be at at U.N. climate change event this next week — an event that should cause worry for most Americans.
Next week for Obama he is at the end of the beginning and possibly the beginning of the end.
The Obama administration fears getting bogged down in a bloody and inconclusive war in Afghanistan and Pakistan — but it also fears walking away from the region.
So its new strategy, which President Barack Obama announced Friday at the White House, is a careful middle course that seeks to avoid both of these unacceptable outcomes.
It keeps the U.S. committed but not too committed.
It doesn’t promise fast results or sweeping achievements, like defeating the Taliban insurgency or quickly bringing security to the Afghan people.
It seeks to draw allies into the effort but doesn’t greatly expand the U.S. footprint, though Obama will announce he is sending 4,000 more troops, several hundred civilian reconstruction experts, and $1.5 billion in additional economic aid to Pakistan.
And it will contain benchmarks that give Obama a chance to review the strategy at regular intervals to decide whether it is working.
The question that arises is whether in trying to keep the U.S. commitment limited, the White House is making it that much harder for the new strategy to work.
The main new U.S. goal is as constricted and clear-eyed as can be. It is to go after Osama bin Laden and the other remains of Al Qaeda hiding along the Afghan-Pakistan border region. Everything else will be secondary.
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Troops Under Fire In Afghanistan; Obama Hit By RPGs from Democratic Left
President Barack Obama’s Afghanistan proposal is under fire from the liberal base, which is becoming increasingly disappointed in his war policies.
Russ Feingold, the liberal and often defiant Wisconsin senator, said today that Obama’s plan “could make the situation worse, not better.”
Peace Action, a liberal anti-war organization, is organizing a coalition to petition Congress to oppose Obama’s Afghanistan plan.
“It’s a shame President Obama believes he can pursue the same militaristic strategy as his predecessors and produce a different result,” said Kevin Martin, executive director of Peace Action.
And Win Without War, another anti-war group, also slammed Obama.
“I regret that President Obama, in his desire to protect our nation from a genuine threat, has outlined a policy that will undermine our security, not enhance it,” said Tom Andrews, the organization’s executive director. “In short, the president’s policy is playing into the hands of Al Qaeda and the Taliban by providing them with a cause that unites and strengthens them.”
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