The decision President Obama made was better than the speech he gave. What will matter, long after his address is forgotten, is that Barack Obama gave Generals McChrystal and Petraeus, two of our greatest military minds, the troops (30,000, plus additional allied troops) and strategy (counterinsurgency) they need to prevail in Afghanistan.
To the president’s credit, this is the second wave of troops he has sent to Afghanistan (in February, he approved sending 17,000). Mr. Obama, in siding with McChrystal and Petraeus, wisely ignored the counsel of his vice president, Joe Biden, whose 35-year track record on national-security matters is an almost unbroken string of unwise decisions. And the president made a decision that puts him at odds with his liberal/left-wing base, which seems as eager to lose in Afghanistan as it was eager to lose in Iraq.
As for the understandable concern some people have about Obama’s 18-month time line: it is, at least for now, less worrisome than it might appear. In his speech, Obama said we will “begin the transfer of our forces out of Afghanistan in July of 2011. Just as we have done in Iraq, we will execute this transition responsibly, taking into account conditions on the ground.” That is a key caveat; if conditions on the ground change, Obama has left himself plenty of room to revisit his decision. Nothing is etched in stone. Read More