[NOTE: BETRAYUS AND ODIERNO ARE ALREADY AGAINST OBAMA. HE NEEDS OUR HELP.]
BUZZFLASH: Afghanistan, not AgainistanP.M. Carpenter
THE FIFTH COLUMNIST by P.M. Carpenter
It's not nearly as glamorous for legacy-seeking commanders in chief, but often it's the militaristic road not taken and the martial step not advanced that protects this nation's welfare far more impressively than does any overseas deployment of gun-blazing Marines.
One thinks, for instance, of JFK's embattled resistance to flooding Southeast Asia with U.S. regulars, not to mention his final rejection of razing Castro's Cuba, or Jimmy Carter's anguished restraint in the face of Iran's revolutionary affronts. But these and other tales of presidential caution look smarter -- and tougher -- from a national security point of view with every passing year of interventionist folly.
To the former, I hope, we can add some determined presidential follow-through to the Politico's headline of yesterday, "Obama slows down troop boost decision."
It's been a nervous month since the Inauguration, waiting for what seemed the inevitable: U.S. escalation in Afghanistan, as promised by the president for 18 previous months on the campaign trail. I regularly inveighed against candidate Obama on that foreign policy note, but held out hope that his spoken intentions were but rhetorical defenses against the slanderous GOP's routine accusations of Democratic weakness.
Whether privately he had always meant to rein in his martial enthusiasm once the electoral prize was achieved, we'll perhaps never know. For now, however, I'll settle for this tentative reversal: "President Barack Obama is refusing to be rushed into his first decision to send troops into combat, an early sign he may be more independent-minded than U.S. military leaders expected."
Obama has, it seems, seminal if not primal doubts about the whole mess, the whole shootin' match, the whole wretched potential of a bottomless snake pit of American commitment in Afghanistan. In what undoubtedly is the most welcome news I've read since Palin's formation of SarahPAC, the Politico reports that "Obama and his aides are questioning the timetable, the mission and even the composition of ... new forces."
It does remain "likely" that he'll "approve one or two additional brigades ... and put off a decision on the third brigade until later," says the story. But in an untethered trial balloon of "How 'bout some common sense instead?" anonymous officials are also leaking that "he has been given multiple options ... including sending no additional forces...."
Said the president of the Center for a New American Security, John Nagl, in a tour de force of prodigious understatement: "I'm personally hopeful that President Obama will do something that President Bush didn't do particularly well" -- that being the "thinking through [of] the implications of committing troops, not just the first order but the second and third order effects."
I never thought I'd see these words dropped into cyberprint by my unforgiving fingers, but it further appears we can thank a former Bush appointee, the still-defense secretary Robert Gates, for hitting the brakes and unleashing the balloons.
He's been schmoozing Congress of late, whispering possible sweet Do-nothings into its ear, labeling as "entirely appropriate" Obama's deliberate deacceleration, and last week, in a profound intimation of a fresh and evolving policy, said "My own personal view is that our primary goal is to prevent Afghanistan from being used as a base for terrorists and extremists to attack the United States and its allies" -- which of course could apply to any Middle East nation.
In short, Leash the hounds.
In the Feb. 9 issue of Newsweek, foreign-affairs journalist Fareed Zakaria inserted an instructive vignette:
In May 2006 a unit of American soldiers in Afghanistan's Uruzgan valley were engulfed in a ferocious fire fight with the Taliban.... [W]hat was most revealing about the battle was the fact that many local farmers spontaneously joined in, rushing home to get their weapons. Asked later why they'd done so, the villagers claimed they didn't support the Taliban's ideological agenda, nor were they particularly hostile toward the Americans. But this battle was the most momentous thing that had happened in their valley for years. If as virile young men they had stood by and just watched, they would have been dishonored in their communities. And, of course, if they were going to fight, they could not fight alongside the foreigners.
Perhaps the many encrustations of Afghanistan's cultural hostility to Western intrusion embedded in that report could be peeled away in the optimistic course of a few dozen or hundred years, at an unpredictable cost, but we simply haven't the resources, either human or fiscal, to find out.
And the very worst timing in which to find that out is embedded in those two little words of inexpressible sorrow and regret: too late.
So please tell us it's true, Mr. President, tell us it's undeniably real: that your primal doubts are getting the better of you.
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THE FIFTH COLUMNIST by P.M. Carpenter
(NO 3RD OPTION ANY LONGER EXISTS).
GANDHI: "BE THE [COURAGEOUS LEADERSHIP]
YOU WISH TO SEE."