Obama – war president

Written By: - Date published: 7:03 am, December 3rd, 2009 - 40 comments
Categories: International - Tags: , ,

Well, any lingering hopes that Obama was something different can now be out of their misery. He’s just another American establishment politician after all. Drawing on the rhetoric of 9/11 Obama has committed to an escalation in Afghanistan:

WASHINGTON – President Obama unveiled his plan Tuesday night to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan, declaring the safety of the American people rides on winning the long, bloody fight there against Al Qaeda and its Taliban allies.

“I am convinced that our security is at stake in Afghanistan and Pakistan,” Obama told a solemn assembly of U.S. Army cadets at West Point and a national television audience. “This is the epicenter of the violent extremism practiced by Al Qaeda.”

This is a move which seeks to defy the lessons of history, both with respect to Afghanistan (“the graveyard of empires”) and America’s recent military performance (the “surge” in Iraq). “Success” is unlikely. Particularly so given that, in trying to offer some hope to an electorate that voted for change, Obama also set a deadline, July 2011, to begin withdrawing American troops. As many commentators have pointed out:

President Barack Obama’s effort Tuesday night to reassure Democrats who oppose the deployment of another 30,000 troops to Afghanistan and to emphasize a U.S. exit strategy […] could backfire. … “It’s a big mistake,” a U.S. defense official, who requested anonymity to speak freely, said of Obama’s announcement that a U.S. withdrawal would begin in 19 months. “It just tells the Taliban and everyone else how long they need to last.”

Sounds like a recipe for disaster to me. Obama’s disaster – as much of the media reaction has put it: “Afghanistan is President Obama’s war now”.

40 comments on “Obama – war president”

  1. Neil 1

    It took a while for him to decide and it looks like an intelligent and well considered decision.

    Bad news for the Taliban, good news for democracy. And NZ troops will play a part. Great to have a government that can work with Obama.

    • felix 1.1

      Good news for democracy where exactly?

      This isn’t what the U.S. voted him in for, Neil.

      • Michael Over Here 1.1.1

        Actually, as ambiguous as I feel about staying at war in Afghanistan, this was a clear part of Obama’s pre-election agendas. To lower troop levels in Iraq so that we could sort out things in Afghanistan and Pakistan on a clear deadline.

        Afghanistan is a nightmare right now because of Bush’s policies and the mature decision isn’t for America to just eject itself and create a failed state where the Taliban and Al Qaeda can fill the vacuum. That’s not what most Afghanis want either. This isn’t permanent occupation, there’s a timeline and there are clear goals, pretty much the opposite of Bush.

      • Bill 1.1.2

        It could be really good for democracy in Latin and South America.
        Seriously.

        I don’t know the military capacity of the US, but if enough is tied up in Afghanistan, Pakistan etc, then there just might not be enough spare capacity to fuck over the unfolding developments in the south of the continent…which is good.

        But that’s the only piece of good shit I can squeeze from the bull….oh, that and that the fluffy brigade might finally be forced to peek over the top of their rose tinted glasses and get fucking real about their snake oil ‘change we believe in’ salesman/messiah.

  2. Neil 2

    “This isn’t what the U.S. voted him in for…”

    He did run on a foreign policy platform that included increasing troop numbrs in Afghanistan. It was part of what people voted for him in for. It wasn’t any sort of secret.

    • sk 2.1

      As Keynes said, when the facts change I change my mind, what do you do sir?

      Afghanistan is evolving on a worst case path, but that path is consistent with its 2000 year history. Can Obama succeed where Alexander the Great failed? I doubt it.

      • Gosman 2.1.1

        Ummmmmm….. How did Alexander the Great fail in Afghanistan exactly?

        I think you might have been influenced by a little too much liberal history revisionism.

  3. sk 3

    It is no different to what Obama did with the financial crisis, appointing Geithner who was NY Fed President during the period the worst excesses occurred, and bringing back Summers whose policies in the 1990’s creating the initial financial boom.

    A friend of mine who is a Democratic activist warned me ahead of the election that Obama was a fake, and that it is the way it is playing out.

    John Key is more right than he realised about the similarities with Obama. We are in an age of vacuous celebrity driven politics, and the West will not recover until we are done with it.

    • Zorr 3.1

      The most disturbing thing about Obama is not the fact that, in the end, he is just another American president. But that when we look back over this period of history, he was actually the best choice of an incredibly bad pick of options.

  4. Neil 4

    “Obama was a fake”

    why a fake? he’s done what he said he’d do. He never promised to ring Chomsky for advice on foreign policy or Michael Moore on health reform.

    You might disagree with his polices but he’s been very clear about what those policies are all along.

    • Robbo 4.1

      Can I remind you that Obama made clear his promises, and with those promises crafted the yes we can, moto, and was elected for change.
      He promised to end NAFTA, lied
      He promised to end GATT, lied
      He promise to repeal the patriot acts, lied
      He promised accountability, lied.
      He promised to end lobbyists in the Admin, lied.
      in fact the MAJORITY of his promises has been broken.
      But the core promises of change was to BRING THE TROOPS HOME IMMEDIATELY.
      He and he lied, he has let down the core Democrat voter and enraged the Libertarian base.
      The Republicans are happy because its a rubber stamp extension of Bushes war and at $1,000,000 per trooper, that over $100,000,000,000 being wasted at a time when there is respectably 20%+ unemployment in the US (real confirmed figures) and millions are living in tents.
      This is the true face of Obama, he is a banker, always was a Wall St ripoff and the Military Industrial Complex will profit further while Afganis die in the thousands.
      The last remaining support base will be chiming the same Bushbot drivel they used about Iraq, “but iif we pulled out now”

      • RedLogix 4.1.1

        On the other hand it might take a more than a year or two to clean up after Bush and Cheney.

        US politics has descended into a dysfunctional shit-hole; even a bleedingly obvious straight-forward health care reform, something similar to what every other developed nation has… turned into an insane worm-hole into which a popular new President has had to pour much of his political capital.

        Real change is beyond their grasp.

  5. andy 5

    This is the Surge v2.0 that Cheney,McCain and the Generals (McCrystal, Petreaus) wanted, know they have it they own Afghanistan twice over.

    He has given them the tools and money, no excuses now!

    Obama was handed the hospital pass and has deftly handed back, 6 Years of underfunded war has a lot of domestic political ramifications. He can only ‘win’ or hand it to the next Prez (Preferably Republican) at some point down the road.

  6. Scribe 6

    The announcement of a date to starting pulling troops out of Afghanistan is ridiculous. As the commentator above points out, the Taliban/Al Qaeda will just circle July 2011 on their calendars and look forward to the retreat.

    Bush had his failings, no doubt, but his decision to approve the surge in Iraq, against the wishes of many senior politicians, proved to be successful. Now Obama’s trying to same in Afghanistan. I hope it’s equally successful, though I’m not all that confident.

    • Pascal's bookie 6.1

      er scribe, you do realise Bush’s surge had an end date right? That’s what made it a surge rather than an escalation.

      This is exactly the same deal. Or not quite…

      So I guess it seems like a poor criticism. Like you I don’t hold out much hope. Afghanistan is a real tough nut. The stand them up routine ignores the fact that the country simply can’t afford the 400,000 man force the strategy recquires.

      • Scribe 6.1.1

        Pb,

        Can you provide a reference to the end date for the Surge? I’ve just had a look at the speeches (very quickly) and couldn’t see such a date. There were some specific tasks/objectives for the Surge to achieve, so was it more “when we’ve got these done, we’re outta here”?

        • Pascal's bookie 6.1.1.1

          can’t find one 🙂

          But it was impilict due to the fact that the logistics of it meant the surge troop levels couldn’t be maintained (many of them came from overlapping deployments, those due to go home saty longer while their replacements got sent in early).

          Also, those benchmarks you mention had reporting dates, which were to be taken as guidelines as to the sucess of the surge, failure to meet them meant…

          The basic idea was to give Maliki enough grunt to hit sadr, the awakening had already dealt to AQI. Let Maliki get a grip on power, and negotiate withdrawal. (I know that’s not how the bencmarks phrase it, but look at what actually happens, rather than the rhetoric)

          Sound familiar?

          Note worthy in Obama’s speech, (and related to what happened with the surge), is the focus on US interests over the liberal hawk fantasies around democratisation…

          http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2009/12/02/obama/index.html

          • Zorr 6.1.1.1.1

            One of the things that is important to mention here to add to PBs post is that the Iraq “surge” ‘worked’ for a couple of important reasons.

            1) They bribed a metric fuckton of tribes/groups for support.

            2) They were running their military in to the ground over the short term for what was meant to be a long term gain. As it stands currently, the US military is in the worst possible shape it could be in and is spread incredibly thin with practically zero troop reserves. This is why Obama has to draw down from Iraq to even be able to bolster Afghanistan because there are no troops left in the US.

  7. Afghanistan: The graveyard of empires.

    We can only hope. This is what Robert Baer, the very man on whom the lead character in Syriana (Cloony) was based has to say about it.

    What We’re Up Against In Afghanistan Is A “War Of National Resistance”

    Doesn’t sound to good eh?

  8. Neil 8

    “The announcement of a date to starting pulling troops out of Afghanistan is ridiculous. As the commentator above points out, the Taliban/Al Qaeda will just circle July 2011 on their calendars and look forward to the retreat.”

    that’s one possibility but I think the plan is hit the Taliban hard, train Afghan troops to take over and work on negotiating with elements of the Taliban that come to the conclusion armed conflict isn’t getting them anywhere.

    Also, having a withdrawl time table undercuts the “imperialism” propaganda.

  9. Draco T Bastard 9

    Hearing about this on the news last night was /facepalm moment. Sheer stupidity, they need to pull out and let them sort themselves out. Won’t happen though as the US still wants that oil pipeline.

    • Gosman 9.1

      What oil pipeline?

      Oh do you mean that mythical oil pipeline that members of the left keep bringing up as the ‘real’ reason the US and West are in Afghanistan?

      You mean one they have had close to eight years to build yet noone seems to be doing much about it?

      The one that they could have built a compteting oil pipeline from Central Asia, under the Caspian, across the Caucasus, through Turkey, across the Mediterranean, and then via the Atlantic to the US East Coast in the amount of time and money they have spent in Afghanistan so far.

      Yeah, you’re right. It is all about the oil pipeline.

      • Draco T Bastard 9.1.1

        Mythical? The US definitely had, and do have, plans for an oil pipeline running through Afghanistan. Sure, they may have been able to build one cheaper than going to war but they didn’t.

        • Gosman 9.1.1.1

          Oooooerrrrrrr! They haf ze plans!

          This reminds me of when I was at Uni and the Bolsheviks used to try and sell some Newspaper that tried to argue that the breakup of Yugoslavia was all because the nasty West wanted to sell more McDonald Cheeseburgers or something or other to them.

          • felix 9.1.1.1.1

            So you scoff because it’s mythical and you scoff because it’s not?

            No wonder you’re confused about bolsheviks and yugoslavia.

            • Gosman 9.1.1.1.1.1

              It’s a mythical because it has formed an integral part of the giant conspiracy theory that you and your ilk are want to believe about the reasons behind the West’s involvement in Afghanistan.

              Please note that the actual pipeline was mooted in 1995. For something that is meant to be the motivating factor for spending Billions of dollars as well as commitiing tens of thousands of troops don’t you think something would have happened by now in terms of building the damn thing?

              BTW congrats to Draco for linking to wikipedia to support his argument.

            • felix 9.1.1.1.1.2

              Thanks for the history lesson, but that’s not what “mythical” means.

              Also: …the giant conspiracy theory that you and your ilk are want to believe…

              Ah, you might want to check your sources there, buddy. Do you think everyone’s out to get you or something?

            • RedLogix 9.1.1.1.1.3

              So the US went into Afghanistan for… no reason at all? Remind me, why DO you think they invaded?

            • Gosman 9.1.1.1.1.4

              Ummmmmmm…. Felix you seem to have this conspiracy theory thing around the wrong way. It is the Conspiracy theorist who is the paranoid one, not the one pointing out how ridiculous the conspiracy theory is. You might want to get that right before you post on the topic again 😉

              @ Redlogix.

              Obama seems to be quite sure of the reason behind the US intervention in Afghanistan so I am not sure why you missed it. To recap for you though, it was to deny the perpetrators of the September the 11th attacks a secure base from which to plan and train for another attack. Given the fact that they have yet to do so then it has been successful to date.

            • RedLogix 9.1.1.1.1.5

              it was to deny the perpetrators of the September the 11th attacks a secure base from which to plan and train for another attack.

              Invaded a whole country to track down one likely dead man and his handful of henchmen?

              Seems almost as implausible a reason as the pipeline.

            • felix 9.1.1.1.1.6

              Gosman,

              You have me confused with someone else. You see conspiracy theorists where there are none, that’s why I call you paranoid.

              Of course if you can find a reference to me espousing conspiracy theories I’ll take it back. Otherwise I think you should apologise for your error.

            • Gosman 9.1.1.1.1.7

              It is quite clear felix that you were unwilling to even look at the Scientific arguments that people like NickS, Edward_the_cat, Quoth the Raven, Scott, and myself put forward. You failed to make a single comment about them.

              Instead you decided to engage in ad homenim attacks on myself for supposedly besmerching peoples good names without evidence yet failed to do the same when the 9/11 Truthers engaged in similar, or worse, behaviour.

              I think that it is pretty clear where you sit on the whole 9/11 Conspiracy theroy and it ain’t on the rational side of the debate.

              [lprent: I suspect that you’ll find the felix hasn’t expressed an opinion during the OpenMike discussions. I certainly can’t remember one. My observations of his habits is that he likes to throw those little 4 spike things (caltraps?) into discussions and watch people step on them. If he has no particular opinion or interest in the topic, then he distributes them pretty evenly based on how much he dislikes people or how much it amuses him (usually by winding them up a bit).

              Which leads me to the important point. If you want to say that someone has a particular opinion, then you’d better be prepared to search it out on this site and demonstrate it. Otherwise you might find that I get interested in the interests of forestalling flamewars. It usually doesn’t pay to get me interested when I’m in moderator mode… ]

            • RedLogix 9.1.1.1.1.8

              mmm.. like I’m still waiting for you to reply to any of the CCD nutters we have trolling through here. Their brand of nuttiness is less rational, and ultimately far more dangerous, than that espoused by even the most obsessed fringe 911Truth dweller… but I’ve yet to see you challenge any of them yet.

              Which side of rationality did you say you were on again?

  10. infused 10

    You’re about 8 months too late. He was an idiot from the start.

  11. Santi 11

    Eight months too late indeed. Also, Obama is a socialist to boot.
    Ouugh to feel sorry for the USA to have elected such a tosser.

  12. rave 12

    Obomber is not a socialist. He’s a sucker for Wall St.
    The US interest in Afghanisan is to keep a puppet regime in place as an advance base to break up the CIS and get the oil and gas of central Asia out of the grip of Russia and China.
    Pepe Escobar in Asia Times is a good read.
    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/KK06Df01.html

    catpcha: intelligence

  13. Pascal's bookie 13

    John Cole, (US Army vet, ex-RWNJ). Thoughts and predictions :

    http://www.balloon-juice.com/?p=30679

    Nut graphs:

    But here is where I am now- in my gut, I just don’t think there is much of anything we can do. We could send 150k more troops there for ten years, and all it would do is bleed us and run our military further into the ground and cost billions and billions more (and this doesn’t go in to the money we need to spend on our injured and dead and the annual budget). As soon as we leave, the same folks will come back and re-assert their authority. Just like they have for centuries.

    Now I know this is not drinking the American exceptionalism kool-aid, and thus makes me a traitor, but at this point I believe that Obama and his commanders honestly believe they might turn it around, but in reality, it just strikes me that what we are doing is very much like the surge in Iraq. We’re going to calm things down, declare victory, pretend we have won, and leave.

    Although we aren’t really leaving that quickly from Iraq, now, are we? I’ll support the troops and the President, and I’ll keep paying my taxes, but I have no faith in what is about to happen and am prepared for a lot of American and Afghan dead to no good end.

    Politically, I expect the neocon right to continue to offer back-handed compliments while the rest of the right slowly starts to undermine the mission by suggesting withdrawal might be the best option, while the liberal hawks cheer and the political left fights Obama every step of the way (for good reason). Then, as 2011 approaches, and nothing has changed but the cost and the body count, and the commanders on the ground have been given their chance but the facts didn’t change, Obama will begin to withdraw. At that point, expect every Republican to call him a quitter and an appeaser (the ones siding with withdrawal will switch in a NY minute), the left will tell him “I told you so all along,’ the country will be sick of war and disillusioned, and we’ll just have nothing to show for it but more dead and wounded, a continued expense, and a dead domestic agenda.

  14. Bill 14

    Strange.
    37 comments and not one pointing to the fact that the invasion of Afghanistan was illegal.
    Just saying.

  15. A Nonny Moose 15

    It gets very tiring listening to people talk in political absolutes. It IS possible to like a politician or leader, yet still appreciate what their mistakes are and that they have to work within a larger political machine.

    What would you have Obama do? Yank every and all personnel out of Afghanistan, only for the real hole in the dyke to show…the one over the border in Pakistan? Then you’d be screaming he was the president who let Pakistan have nukes/commit genocide and/or racial cleansing.

  16. Robbo 16

    What, you think America should continue a foreign policy of invading countries and killing hundreds of thousands of people?
    If you think “if they leave” it would turn into a mess, well heres news for you, it is a bloody mess, and it all started when Neocons met and preplanned this “regime change” before 911. BEFORE, hell it is in the current investigations into Iraq.
    People dont want to read, official documents released under The Information Act like.
    Osama Bin Ladin, CIA name Tim Osman worked for the US right up to the day he died.
    While the world looked for Osama, he was in a Dubai US Military Hospital getting dialysis.
    Hijackers DID NOT originate from Afganistan, they were from Saudi Arabia, the home of the Bin Ladin Family and large shareholder in the Carlyle Group, along with personal freinds the Bush Family. Bush and Bin Ladins are investment collegues in military.
    Several Hijackers of 911 stayed at an FBI house and had licenses under US Military base.
    US customs allowed the Hijackers into the US and allowed them out and back again, knowing while on the terror watch list.
    Directly after all flights across the US were grounded, all Bin Ladins were flown out under protection.
    These and hundreds more points are public knowledge now, look it up.
    Coincedentally 911 is just the mother of all excuses to wage war, invade the middle east and turn western countries into surveilled 1984 style grids.
    And if you dont realise thats all it is about is money, greed, power and control, then you are fodder to the lie that is “the war on terror”

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