Like holding KSM’s trial at Ground Zero, the Obama administration is backing off of another awful national security decision regarding the 2011 Afghanistan withdrawal deadline. Both the KSM trial and withdrawal decisions were political, both designed to placate the leftist supporters of the President. The consequences of the KSM move are mostly emotional, but the consequences of the Afghanistan deadline have been deadly. Surely our fight in Afghanistan has been made more difficult, our enemies more emboldened, based on this political decision by our President. Last week they were clearly backing off of this deadline, just as many of us knew he would have to.
The most interesting aspect of this is that President Obama had a template to follow, one that his predecessor did not. When President Bush was asked when we would withdraw from Iraq, his answer essentially was “when the job is done”. The left and code pink screamed, but most importantly our enemies became discouraged. Can’t you just hear them? “You mean this American force will not leave until they defeat us? We must sit here in our safe houses listening for drones and cruise missiles at all hours of the day and night? Not that listening helps, because by the time we hear it we can’t move three feet before we are dead. It’s time to go home and start a family farm!”. It was a proven approach; it deflated our enemies and motivated the Iraqi government to form without making deals with the devil (Al Qaeda in Iraq, Al Sadr, insurgents and anarchists).
But our President set a deadline simply because he lacked the leadership to stand up to Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and the left. Yes, there were those on the right who believed we needed the deadline, but most of those (and they were only a few) thought we should withdraw almost immediately (see George Will). Obama set the deadline, and the Karzai government knows what we all know, which is this war cannot be won by then. So the Karzai government calls the Taliban to start making deals. Karzai officials start preparing their “Plan B” for when the US withdraws, making destructive deals with the enemy so they have a safe place to land in case we actually do withdraw beginning in July 2011. All of the things the Bush Administration avoided the Obama Administration didn’t, despite the model that had been set. All for politics. All for a lack of leadership. Certainly many more American and NATO soldiers are dead as a result of this weak decision, and more will die unnecessarily until we say “we are here until the job is done”.
Most Americans think this way. We commit to an objective (not a withdrawal deadline) and we achieve it. We make it happen. We know we can achieve our goals and nothing stands in our way. Unfortunately our President, to date, has not thought this way.