Thursday, December 03, 2009

The despair of false expectations

The 2008 presidential campaign must have been the most intensely covered one in decades, with myriad new ways to get information on the candidates' positions, no fewer than 300 debates during the Dem primaries in which the candidates were grilled endlessly on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, diplomacy with Iran, universal health care, cap & trade, etc. And still, Republicans and their Tea Party supporters are shocked that health care reform has been embarked upon, that the U.S. will be committed to addressing such emergencies as climate change, or that Iran is not already a smoking crater.

Similarly, on the Left, some in their rose-colored ardor for the man from Hope and Changeseemed to have formed an expectation that, miraculously, we'd be out of Iraq completely by now and that in Afghanistan U.S. troops would have already been replaced by Peace Corps volunteers. Or something.

There is a right way and a wrong way to express anger at President Obama for committing more troops to Afghanistan. This is the wrong way (from Tristero at Hullabaloo):

If the Democratic party today doesn't have viable candidates who are prepared to oppose this crazy policy, it sure as hell will have them two elections hence. I realize that opposing the election of Democrats at a time when the opposition party has literally gone off the deep end puts this country at serious risk of another extreme rightwing takeover. But I don't think liberals have much choice but to take that risk. We are talking about potentially thousands upon thousands of human deaths for an utterly pointless war. This liberal - and I'm hardly the only one - can neither support nor excuse what is now officially the Obama/Afghan War.

Similarly, Garry Wills writes at the New York Review of Books blog that "I cannot vote for any Republican. But Obama will not get another penny from me, or another word of praise, after this betrayal."

It's not that I support Obama's decision to escalate in Afghanistan -- far from it, I am intensely skeptical of our ability to find a lasting solution in the country -- but I'm not surprised by the decision either. Not only has Obama been a long-time supporter of the war in Afghanistan, but he has consistently voiced his support for committing more resources to the effort. In July of last year, he gave his big "national security" speech, where he outlined his plans for Afghanistan and Iraq. Here is a brief excerpt:

In fact – as should have been apparent to President Bush and Senator McCain – the central front in the war on terror is not Iraq, and it never was. That’s why the second goal of my new strategy will be taking the fight to al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan.


I will send at least two additional combat brigades to Afghanistan, and use this commitment to seek greater contributions – with fewer restrictions – from NATO allies. I will focus on training Afghan security forces and supporting an Afghan judiciary, with more resources and incentives for American officers who perform these missions. Just as we succeeded in the Cold War by supporting allies who could sustain their own security, we must realize that the 21st century’s frontlines are not only on the field of battle – they are found in the training exercise near Kabul, in the police station in Kandahar, and in the rule of law in Herat.

This isn't a one time thing either; throughout the speech Obama calls for more troops and more resources to be directed towards the war in Afghanistan. The simple fact here is that Obama has done exactly what he said he would, and it's ridiculous for liberals to claim that they've been "betrayed." No, they just haven't been paying attention.

I believe that's the first time the "thoughts" of Tristero, whom I have long found to be one of the most pompous, self-absorbed voices in the blogosphere, have appeared on this humble blog.

Also, it would have been great if NRP and other news outlets had focused as much attention on the hundreds of thousands who protested against the war in Iraq in 2002/3 as they do on the 15 who braved the elements to protest in San Francisco last night.

But the question remains: what were these people listening to during the campaign? Themselves? Oppose the policy? Sure. Feel betrayed? Please. And to decide to stop supporting Obama or other Democrats because the former has at least presented some plan to bring to a close our adventures in Afghanistan is just a classic version of cutting off one's nose...

And, of course, my favorites are those that now say, "Well, I voted for Hillary." I for one was unaware she was the peacenik candidate.




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