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Sunday, July 11, 2010

"Comes a Moment to Decide"

Another quick one -- this is from David Warsh -- again on the path forward for Obama: First, I didn't realize that nancy Pelosi "brought the American war in Iraqi to a foreseeable end":
Comes a Moment to Decide, by David Warsh: ...Here’s something else that EP knows, which the president knows too, or should know, since he was there, though it is not exactly common knowledge.  It was Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), not Gen. David Petraeus, who brought the American war in Iraqi to a foreseeable end.  Pelosi’s elevation after the Democrats regained control of the House in November 2006 led to a series of budget skirmishes in early 2007 that made it clear she had the votes to shut down funding of the war.
Bush responded with his surge, not as a demonstration of credible resolve – that was the cover story – but to obscure the fact that the situation had changed decisively and that the Americans would soon be leaving. The strategy was daring and clever. It gave everyone a chance to take a deep breath and regroup. It permitted the “Anbar awakening” (a Sunni militia financed by the US) to shut down Al Qaeda factions and enlist ad-hoc insurgents. The current fragile truce among Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds emerged. Iraq grasped the opportunity to reclaim itself. It was the fig leaf the Americans needed.
Something like this presumably is the rationale behind the 30,000 more US troops that Obama committed to the Afghan campaign last December after a laborious and showy review, with a promise to begin withdrawals in July 2011. But that’s where the logic breaks down. ...

The main topic of the article is:

Comes a Moment to Decide, by David Warsh: As a (sometimes) shadow newspaper columnist, one who joined the Obama bandwagon before the Iowa caucuses made the Illinois Senator a favorite, Economic Principals feel obligated and/or entitled to keep track of the shifting tides of his presidency. ...
Obama is approaching a decision that will make or break his presidency, not in the long view of history, but now, in real time. He must summon the courage to begin to leave Afghanistan next year, however ignominiously, and accept the nearly certain defeat of most American war aims that will ensue, perhaps in advance of the 2012 election.
I haven't done a very good job of representing the post -- you should read the original -- but here's the closing:
Senior military commanders, at least some of them, still think that they could “win this thing” if they just had another decade or two – that’s just what Gen. Creighton Abrams argued forty years ago in Vietnam. ... Probably only a few hard-rock conservatives expect that the US-led NATO forces can remain in Afghanistan indefinitely. US elections later this year and in 2012 will provide the test. ...
The United States has been at war in Afghanistan for nine years. Nobody has been a more perspicacious critic of American foreign policy in that time than Andrew Bacevich, the former US Army colonel turned teacher and author. ...
On The New Republic blog last week, Bacevich taunted the president, arguing that Obama “lacks the guts to get out.”  The White House has bought into the conventional wisdom about American power: “It’s all so complicated.  There are risks involved. Things might go wrong. There’s an election to think about.”  When Americans look to Washington, he wrote, “they see a cool, calculating, dispassionate president whose administration lacks a moral core.”
Here’s hoping that Bacevich is wrong. With its bias towards hope, EP expects that Obama will rise to the occasion. But either way, it has come to this:  as the old hymn has it (written in 1845 by James Russell Lowell to protest the US war with Mexico), Once to every man and nation comes a moment to decide.

    Posted by on Sunday, July 11, 2010 at 04:23 PM in Economics, Iraq and Afghanistan, Politics | Permalink  Comments (17)


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