On the first day of December, our Commander-in-Chief stood before an audience of cadets at West Point and outlined his plan to end the war in Afghanistan successfully. The plan includes sending an additional 30,000 troops to the war torn nation within six months and having the majority of combat forces conclude their efforts by July 2011.
The mission is clear – disrupt, dismantle, and defeat Al Qaeda in order promote security and stability in the region and at home. The mission is the right one and the strategy was crafted by our best military minds.
But one question still looms – what if we haven’t succeeded in eighteen months?
Certainly our armed forces are the most capable in the world, but we’ve learned success in Afghanistan is difficult and complex. This columnist is not suggesting that we won’t win in Afghanistan, but simply that it is very possible that the fight may not be over when the summer dawns in 2011.
If that day comes, will this president have the stomach to stay the course?
As a senator, President Obama was a harsh critic of the War in Iraq, but today he calls it a victory. Though, hindsight is 20/20. The president will admit staying the course in Iraq was the right call, but that wasn’t how he felt when the decision had to be made. He was ready to cut our losses and retreat.
Hopefully, our brave men and women will make this question moot. But if they don’t, our president, with reelection lurking will have to make a call; fight or retreat.
Public opinion is split on the War in Afghanistan and this surge will add an extra $30 billion a year to our already booming deficit. There is no political safe ground; either fight a costly war that you assured the American people would be over, or accept defeat and admit our soldiers’ blood was spilled in vain.
This begs the question, why articulate a withdrawal date? Unfortunately, as is often the case with President Obama, politics is the answer. His left flank doesn’t like the idea of escalating in Afghanistan and to appease them, he gave them an exit date. Our generals didn’t insist we withdraw by July 2011, the president did.
So if we haven’t ended the war successfully in July 2011 and the generals on the ground pressure President Obama to extend the withdrawal date until our mission is complete, will he? Forgive this columnist for having his doubts.