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Can We Leave Yet?

It sounds like a joke: Obama has agonized for months already on his Afghanistan war strategy and has yet to make a decision, so he skipped to the exit strategy. No, really:

President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown have turned the focus of Afghan war planning toward an exit strategy, publicly declaring that the U.S. and its allies can’t send additional troops without a plan for getting them out.

The shift has unnerved some U.S. and foreign officials, who say that planning a pullout now — with or without a specific timetable — encourages the Taliban to wait out foreign forces and exacerbates fears in the region that the U.S. isn’t fully committed to their security.

“It’s not a good idea,” said Rep. Ike Skelton (D., Mo.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

Not a good idea at all. This simply reinforces the image of an irresolute president who’d rather not do what it takes to win a war that he once declared to be critical. As Skelton explains: “When the area has been stabilized … then it’s time to go home. But to set up a timetable for people in that neck of the woods, they’ll just wait us out.” But there’s no firm deadline for withdrawal, the Obami hastened to add. Well, that’s a good thing, perhaps one lesson learned from their Iraq posturing. But Obama’s image still remains: can’t manage to commit and can’t wait to get out. Not good in a potential spouse, horrid in a commander in chief.



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