Obama and Afghanistan

As President Obama gives a rationale for his strategy in Afghanistan, it maybe helpful to quote from Barack Obama the candidate. For my more liberal friends who believe that Obama is betraying them by continuing the fight in Afghanistan, maybe it would be helpful to read his words from July 2008, words that I caught from Andrew Sullivan.

Ending the war is essential to meeting our broader strategic goals, starting in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where the Taliban is resurgent and Al Qaeda has a safe haven. Iraq is not the central front in the war on terrorism, and it never has been. As Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently pointed out, we won’t have sufficient resources to finish the job in Afghanistan until we reduce our commitment to Iraq.

As president, I would pursue a new strategy, and begin by providing at least two additional combat brigades to support our effort in Afghanistan. We need more troops, more helicopters, better intelligence-gathering and more nonmilitary assistance to accomplish the mission there. I would not hold our military, our resources and our foreign policy hostage to a misguided desire to maintain permanent bases in Iraq.

Whether one agrees with Obama or not, one should not accuse him of betraying their position -- this has been his position from day one. This quote is from a NY Times Op Ed.


Mystical Seeker said…
Speaking as one who voted for a third party candidate, I would say that you make a valid point. I think a lot of liberals were in denial about some of the things he was saying in 2008, because they were so desperate for an alternative to the horrors of George Bush, but there really is no "betrayal" here.
John said…
No betrayal. He is doing exactly what he promised to do. I just don't think its defensible. And even though I like him as president, I feel strongly opposed to this decision.

Danny Bradfield said…
I'm not sure how I feel about Obama's decision. Perhaps it is the right one. But what I liked about his address tonight was that he mentioned that peace and security will never come about as long as nuclear weapons/weapons of mass destruction exist in the world. It is clear that he has a dream of eradicating nuclear weapons from the world, including our own stockpile (I think he used the word "arsenal").

The real truth is that lasting peace and security will never be achieved through violence and warfare. Maybe an increase in troops is needed to meet a short-term goal in Afghanistan--I don't know--but lasting peace will only come when we (i.e., "humanity") learn to make peace instead of war.
Danny Bradfield said…
OK, here's what Obama said. Not quite the wording I thought, but still hopeful. (From the transcripte at npr.org):

We will have to take away the tools of mass destruction. And that's why I've made it a central pillar of my foreign policy to secure loose nuclear materials from terrorists, to stop the spread of nuclear weapons, and to pursue the goal of a world without them — because every nation must understand that true security will never come from an endless race for ever more destructive weapons; true security will come for those who reject them.
Anonymous said…
I supported Ron Paul, but when a choice gets too desperate in the end, one oftens goes with plan B. David Mc
roy said…
I join in Rabbi Rami's despair... http://rabbirami.blogspot.com/2009/12/night-of-despair-my-response-to.html

Thanks for the quote. Didn't get to watch it in its entirety -- and will read the transcript.

From what I can see though, he is doing as he said he would.

I think it is a bit cynical for someone like Dennis Kucinich, who voted for this war in the beginning to lambaste the President for trying to finishing it.
What's happening at the moment was clear from the beginning. I highly doubt that people with some knowledge of the international politics really believed Obama would withdraw units from Afghanistan. He could never do this without doing a mistake which could cost him much more in the and. I approve of his decision, and as for the criticism - check the facts first, criticize afterwards.

Mystical Seeker said…
I remember back during the election campaign telling a coworker some of the reasons why I couldn't support Obama. I mentioned to her several of his positions on the issues, such as his support for FISA, his support for the war in Afghanistan, his support for the USA Patriot Act, his support for the Wall Street bailout and then I mentioned that he supported the death penalty. For whatever reason it was the last one that got a reaction. "He does?" she said, seeming genuinely surprised.

A lot of liberals didn't want to believe any of this. They molded him in their own image without paying any attention to his ideology. Right after the election, he promised he would govern from the center--and a lot of liberals apparently weren't listening then either. And then when, as President, he took Bush's side on issues of executive power and secrecy, when he refused to prosecute Bush war criminals, and when he came out against single payer health care, a lot of liberals still saw him as one of theirs. I'm not really sure why Afghanistan might be a last straw for some of them, since that is one thing he was always clear on from the beginning.

An example of this process of denial can be found in Michael Moore's latest movie, "Capitalism: A Love Story". Moore condemns Geithner, Obama's Treasury secretary, as a tool of corporate interests, but then turns around and praises Obama's election as some sort of symbol of the people's hope for change against the power of corporate interests. Uh, Michael, who was it who appointed Geithner?

That same Michael Moore then posted an open letter to Obama a couple of days ago in the Huffington Post that talks about how betrayed he felt over the escalation in Afghanistan. Uh, Michael, were you paying attention to what Obama said before the election about Afghanistan?

I do think that escalating a war a couple of months after winning a Nobel Peace Prize is just too precious for words. But in no way should anyone be surprised by this. In a way, I suppose I should feel vindicated, but in reality it just confirms my own pessimism about the state of American politics.
Anonymous said…
You're right Mystical. At least this cat's out of the bag now. David Mc
Anonymous said…
I'm with the Rabbi too Roy.

"Did I vote for a slower version of McCain?" David Mc
Mystical Seeker said…
I had no use for McCain whatsoever, but one interesting difference between him and Obama is that he opposed Bush's policy of signing statements--which put him in the same camps as a lot of liberals who criticized Bush severely over that point--while Obama supports them. On the subject of imperial executive power, Obama is more like Bush than McCain was.
Mystical Seeker, your points are well taken. Many on the left seem to have believed the MacCAin-Palin adds that pictured Obama as this leftist -- which he's not. They seem to forget that the very things they're criticizing him for, he said he'd do. I think that many, apparently including Michael Moore, believed that Obama was this moldable person who would become their kind of liberal.

What Obama has to remember, on the other side, is that the GOP folks, no matter how hard he may try to reach across the aisle have no interest in doing so. For them, this is war, and they'll do everythging they can to destroy the President.

David, the cats not out of the bag, I knew this was where he stood. He opposed the Iraq War and would end it. But, he would try to give Afghanistan the attention it deserved and Bush did not give it.

Of course, you could have all voted for John Edwards -- and oh right....

Or Dennis K -- oh and John McCain would be President.

Or Hillary? Oh, yeah, she was more hawkish than Obama ever was -- criticized him along with McCain for wanting to use diplomacy with Iran. How soon we forget!!!
Anonymous said…
The problem is, they're all politicians. David Mc
Anonymous said…
For them, this is war, and they'll do everythging they can to destroy the President.

-Can you even name one president in recent memory where this WAS NOT the case? See G W Bush as exhibit A.

Bob you did say.. "I trust Obama on this issue". I love that statement, b/c if you said that about Bush, you would be called crazy. It just goes to show, there really isn't support for true ideals vs your "party". Its just singing in the party tune. Even those screaming on the right, would stand and applaud if it was McCain or Bush saying it. Be careful not to join the sheep Bob. Gotta love politics!!


I'm trusting Obama here because he's not shown me that I should distrust him. I'm not doing this as a party line issue. I knew that he was looking at renewing a focus on Afghanistan, even as he was winding down Iraq.

Why I didn't trust Bush (and now it's pretty clear that Cheney drove this) was that the foundation for the Iraq invasion was based on either faulty intelligence, a rush to judgment, or fabrications. It would appear that all three are in play -- as signalled by many who served that administration.

Obama hasn't said anything like that.
Anonymous said…
I suspect Cheney drove both wars and his continued interests in his private sector holdings left him with a few conflict of interests. Why doesn't Obama hold the previous administration accountable? Why are their shenanigans still secret? A democracy can’t continue to function in this manner. David Mc

You ask a good question about holding the previous administration accountable. The answer is that we have no history of doing this. Politically I don't think its palatable and likely would further fragment the situation, so you move on.

What is interesting is how Bush has basically disappeared from the scene, but Cheney continues to spout off. Part of that maybe to ward off any attempts to hold him accountable.

Bush does appear to have been the front man from the beginning -- which is why Cheney got the position he was chief finder for. That was unseemly to begin with!
Anonymous said…
Cheny- More opportunistic than even the average politician for sure. David Mc

Popular posts from this blog

Chosen Ones -- Lectionary Reflection for Easter 6B

Is Jesus Crazy? -- Lectionary Reflection for Pentecost 2B

God the Creator - A Lectionary Reflection for Trinity Sunday A (Genesis)