Sunday, December 6, 2009

Strategy, War, and Afghanistan

This last week President Obama announced that he, as Commander-in-Chief, was sending 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan (on top of the 21,000 he sent in the late spring). Much has been said by better and more informed people, but let me give my two cents. First off, this decision is why I don't envy the President and his power. The President had no good choices. And all three choices (surge, keep the same level, bring them home) could go horribly wrong. Moreover, smart individuals who want what is best for America vehemently disagree over what to do in Afghanistan and the Global War on Terror. With that in mind I appreciate this statement from President Obama:
As President, I refuse to set goals that go beyond our responsibility, our means, or our interests. And I must weigh all of the challenges that our nation faces. I don't have the luxury of committing to just one. Indeed, I'm mindful of the words of President Eisenhower, who -- in discussing our national security -- said, "Each proposal must be weighed in the light of a broader consideration: the need to maintain balance in and among national programs."
Decisions are never made in a vacuum, especially decisions made by our President. He must weigh the costs and benefits of any decision, understanding the consequences of action and inaction, within the framework of America's interests. If we want, we can "win the war" in Afghanistan, but that would require hundreds of thousands of troops and billions and billions of dollars. That, obviously, is not in our interest. Or, we could pull back from Afghanistan, Iraq, and the rest of the world (i.e., go European) and just hope for the best. But that also is not in our interest. Somedays, its tough being President of the USA.

This image is from some TV news station in Montana. Awesome.


  1. Give it up for Montana News! Where the forecast for yesterday was "brutal," and today's was "dangerous." whatever those mean.

    we talked a bit about this, but I want to reiterate your point. you (I) have to feel for President Obama, trying to make a decision on how to handle a 7 year old war that really seems to have no good options.
    now both sides and everyone else seems to be upset with the presidents choice. but in a certain sense (I said this about Israeli/Palestinian politics once to the wrong two people, and started a huge {HUGE!} fight) if you are not frustrating both sides of the political aisle, are you really doing what you should as president? i.e., the interests of the parties are, and should be, second to running a country.

  2. Amen to that!

    Our presidents obviously have political leanings (as they should). But I believe that when it comes to foreign policy and they need to make tough, difficult decisions (something no armchair commentator needs to make) they want to do what is best for the country, regardless of political expediency. Sure, they make wrong decisions, but usually its because they didn't have many good choices.