Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Obama and Afghanistan

"Whatever this is, it isn't leadership."

(--Elliot Abrams, senior foreign policy adviser Bush and Reagan, speaking of President Obama's handling of Afghanistan.)

"I think I'll ... " by the California artist Ed Ruscha.
Painting on loan to the White House.

And from The Atlantic: Time for Decisiveness on Afghanistan

The greatest wealth is human lives. What price indecision?



Anonymous said...

What's the alternative? Blundering into a situation without thought about the long term ramifications, as Bush did in Iraq? As I understand it, the Iraq situation is dangerously close to ending in an Iraqi/Iranian block. Should we mistep in Afghanistan it could end up an Afghani/Iraqi/Iranian and maybe Pakistani block. The decisions to be made are not like financial traders' decisions, reversible on a moments notice. The have long lasting implications, many possible unintended consequences, and are in the short to medium time frame irreversible. Obama better consider more than everything and get the decision right because we the people will live with his decision perhaps for generations.

What price indecision? Nobody really knows. What price incorrect decision? Could be orders of magnitude more lives lost for generations to come.

I think having the intestinal fortitude to deliberate when his critics are calling for a snap decision shows good leadership, sobriety and respect for the awesome responsibility of the office he holds. Caving in and making a decision before he is ready could be disasterous.


HaynesBE said...

Dear Anonymous1

As usual, you bring a different perspective which I appreciate.

I would agree that Bush blundered into Iraq--however, that blunder was eventually followed by a successful counter-insurgency strategy. My readings on Iraq do not point toward an Iraq/Iran block but rather an increasingly secular and independent Iraqi political system.
It is Obama's failure to learn from and apply the lessons of Iraq to the situation in Afghanistan that bothers me. Those lessons were painful and involved great loss of life. I would hope it was not necessary to relearn those lessons in Afghanistan.

Of course, not caving into public pressure or making a decision before ready are good things, but I do not think that is what is going on.

I think Obama's actions (and inactions)demonstrate that he is more concerned with world opinion than with American lives--civilian or military. Aiding Iran in its quest for a nuclear bomb (see here and here) is a horrific case in point.

I also think Obama has been distracted by the desire to push his domestic agenda (e.g. government controlled healthcare and energy) to the great detriment of paying adequate attention to foreign affairs.

Could you refer me to some readings that give more detail on how Iraq is headed toward a block with Iran? Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps I spoke too stongly regarding a 'block.' The point is that going into Iraq destabilized the region. One concern is that Saddam was Sunni and provided a balance to the Shiite Iran. Now that is gone, and at least in the last couple of years there has been fear of a thoecratic government of the Shiite persuasion.

Check ou this post: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-03/26/content_11073414.htm

You may agree that the region is far from stabilized and the prognosis is very uncertain.

Regardless of all that, we are talking about tens of thousands of military lives, not to mention civilian and 'collateral' lives. I think Obama should be circumspect and deliberate, even if it takes a few more weeks. Unfortunately, Karzai, who was installed by Bush, is turning out to be a corrupt leader, which will do us no favors as things progress.


HaynesBE said...

Re: "going into Iraq destabilized the region."

I am not sure that "stability" under Saddam was actually stable, or even preferable to the current situation. I do agree that invading Iraq was not the best choice of responding to the threats posed to the US by radical Islam--but once there, I think premature withdrawal would have "destabilized" things further, including emboldening Arab and Islamic dictators.

Do you think we should have NOT gone after Bin Laden in Afghanistan? Do you think that delaying an Afghanistan surge to mount an effective counter-insurgency is actually saving lives?

A big part of my criticism with Obama's delay in his decision about Afghanistan is that the evidence points to him prioritizing his time and efforts to the enactment of statist solutions to economic problems at home instead of making the middle east war his highest priority--precisely because of the lives which are at stake!

Also, can you give me a source which documents how "Bush installed Karzi"? (I am not saying he didn't---I am saying I don't know enough to have an opinion.)

Thanks, as always, for your comments.