The Afghanistan Policy

Obama at West Point
Obama at West Point

After months of waiting, the nation finally received the result of all that agonizing over the future of our Afghan policy. The speech that President Obama gave at West Point on Tuesday evening focused on the following:

  1. We are in this mess because of the failures of the Bush administration;
  2. Gen. Stanley McChrystal will get 3/4 of what he wanted for this war;
  3. We are going to get out of it as quickly as possible.

Let’s take those three points individually.

First, I believe President Bush was correct in getting involved in Afghanistan; it was the home of Al Qaeda and was a base of operation for terrorism against the United States. I’m not someone who automatically believes we ought to jump into every conflict; this one, however, was a result of a direct attack on the country.

There can be plenty of debate over how well this war has been executed, but I don’t accept the accusation that the former president allowed bin Laden to escape because he wasn’t focused on catching him. How in the world would allowing bin Laden to continue have been a help to Bush’s approval ratings? No, he wanted to catch him. Why that didn’t happen, I’ll leave to those who have a greater understanding of the military situation and the difficulties involved.

Second, after all those weeks of internal discussion, why give the general less than what he asked for? If you put him in charge and give him the task of bringing this to a successful conclusion, why leave him [and the troops] dangling in the wind for months and then modify his request in this way? If McChrystal believes he needs 40,000 more feet on the ground, why quibble over a part of this?

The president never speaks in terms of victory. He never clearly identifies the enemy. I still have grave doubts as to whether he actually believes an enemy exists. Rather, he is bowing to the political realities, but not from his heart. There is no conviction in his words.

This is similar to how American presidents approached the Soviet Union during the 1970s. They no longer believed in a victory in the Cold War; instead they were satisfied to allow the USSR to have its sphere of influence and leave bad enough alone. Then came Ronald Reagan and victory in the Cold War.

Third, Obama seems fixated on getting out. While I have great sympathy for bringing the troops home, it would be folly to do so without accomplishing the purpose of destroying the Al Qaeda and Taliban threat. Further, now the enemy knows that we’re so skittish about being there that we’ve set a timetable for withdrawal. In what war in the past has any government announced ahead of time the date when the war will come to an end?  All the enemy has to do now is wait 18 months and then move in and take over once more. Afghanistan will again become a haven for terrorism.

Cartoonists have been quick to jump on this one. Here’s one example:

And another one—from the enemy’s point of view:

We have a weak commander in chief, and it’s becoming obvious that the world sees him that way as well. This does not bode well for the future.

I will continue to hope that the extra 30,000 troops will make the difference. I truly do pray for the success of this policy. But I think our only hope for success lies with Someone who works His will through the nations. All other hope is false.