Through war, Bush set out to transform the greater Middle East. Despite immense expenditures of blood and treasure, that effort failed. In choosing Obama rather than John McCain to succeed Bush, the American people acknowledged that failure as definitive. Obama’s election was to mark a new beginning, an opportunity to “reset” America’s approach to the world.
The president’s chosen course of action for Afghanistan suggests he may well squander that opportunity. Rather than renouncing Bush’s legacy, Obama apparently aims to salvage something of value. In Afghanistan, he will expend yet more blood and more treasure hoping to attenuate or at least paper over the wreckage left over from the Bush era.
However improbable, Obama thereby finds himself following in the footsteps of Richard Nixon. Running for president in 1968, Nixon promised to end the Vietnam War. Once elected, he balked at doing so. Obsessed with projecting an image of toughness and resolve — U.S. credibility was supposedly on the line — Nixon chose to extend and even to expand that war. Apart from driving up the costs that Americans were called on to pay, this accomplished nothing. [continued…]
As he justified sending 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan at a cost of $30 billion a year, President Barack Obama’s description Tuesday of the al Qaeda “cancer” in that country left out one key fact: U.S. intelligence officials have concluded there are only about 100 al Qaeda fighters in the entire country.
A senior U.S. intelligence official told ABCNews.com the approximate estimate of 100 al Qaeda members left in Afghanistan reflects the conclusion of American intelligence agencies and the Defense Department. The relatively small number was part of the intelligence passed on to the White House as President Obama conducted his deliberations. [continued…]
One of the most respected foreign policy voices in Democratic circles expressed “serious reservations” with components of a U.S. troop escalation in Afghanistan during an interview on Tuesday.
Former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, who was an early skeptic about increasing troops in Afghanistan, said he was not necessarily opposed to Obama’s decision to send an additional 30,000 troops there. But he stressed that the mission had to be defined properly.
For starters, he argued that if America’s military efforts lack a sufficient multilateral component, “it will in fact help to feed the insurgency.” Brzezinski also cautioned that it would be hypocritical and counterproductive for America to stress that Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s government be purged of corruption. [continued…]