Forget for a second the semi-ironic name of this blog, but I am going to take a moment for self-congratulatory back patting, all in good fun. As Coates pointed out, the intrepid Phil Zabriskie called the exact number of troops President Obama was going to send to Afghanistan a month ago. Adding my own crystal ball gazing to our gloat, The Hastings Reportsuggested what the President’s decision was likely to be back on Sept. 21:
Meanwhile, we’re heading towards [Obama’s] inevitable cave–Obama is going to do what McChrystal says, I would guess–so talking about the El Salvador Option is perhaps moot.
And even earlier, on May 14th, THR hinted that after McKiernan’s firing and the additional 21,000 troops, we might soon be on our way to 100,000.
Lastly, the Afghanistan Troop Count, per Gates. 68,000 American troops in Afghanistan by the end of the year…with possibly 10,000 more next year…I’m watching the creep towards the 100,000 mark…
We’ll be at 100,000 by next summer. As my grandmother likes to say, even a blind squirrel catches a nut every once and while. And we all know what they say about broken watches.
The bigger picture here is that unlike the cheerleading in the media that led up to the Iraq War, and the popular support the war had, there are now plenty of voices out there who have waved a bunch of red flags. There isn’t popular support this time, either, though that doesn’t seem to matter, which makes you wonder about democracy. And–make no mistake!–what we’re about to do in Afghanistan(what we’ve been heading towards since last January) is essentially embark on a whole new war, or at least a radically new phase of the war. (We’re in fact about to do what the previous administration had explicitly wanted to avoid in Afghanistan–getting bogged down in a quagmire land war in Central Asia. There’s a reason Rummy wanted the Afghan invasion to be done mainly by Special Forces and the Northern Alliance.) The Iraq Surge saw a troop increase of about 25 percent to what had been there before. In Afghanistan, Obama has now signed on for a 100 percent troop increase, if my meager math skills are correct.
Last point: it’s true that Obama had promised during the 2008 campaign to focus more on Afghanistan than Iraq, as Salon’s Alex Koppleman points outin his post on Michael Moore’s now public opposition to the war. But what if Obama’s’08 pitch had been: “I’m going to end the war in Iraq. But don’t mistake that with bringing the troops home. I’m going to send 100,000 or more Americans to Afghanistan to fight for at least for four or five years, possibly another decade.” I would think that his supporters would not have been happy. Had McCain said something like that, or even Hillary, Obama fans would have called them reckless war mongerers.
Afghanistan seems to be the one campaign promise Obama is willing to go ahead with 100 percent–unlike the inconsistent Gitmo decisions or his watered down health care promises. I think his supporters have a right to be a little miffed. Why is Afghanistan the one “issue” where Obama has not been accomodating or willing to compromise? Strangely, he’s actually pandering to his political opponents and a minority of voters, and doing the exact opposite of what his antiwar base would have liked.