At times you wonder if Obama and his minions want to win the war in Afghanistan. Oh, horror — can you say such things? Accuse them of less-than-steely determination to pursue victory? Well, to be blunt, it’s becoming hard to think of explanations for the Obama team’s insistence, childlike and illogical as it is, for defending what even sympathetic observers regard as the heart of our difficulty in our Afghanistan effort — the president’s timeline for a troop pullout. There was this exchange yesterday on This Week between Jake Tapper and Rahm Emanuel:
TAPPER: So what exactly does the July 2011 deadline mean? Is it going to be a whole lot of people moving out, definitely, as Vice President Biden says? Or could it be more nuanced, as General Petraeus says, maybe just a couple of people leaving one province?
EMANUEL: Well, no, everybody knows there’s a firm date. And that firm date is a date — deals with the troops that are part of the surge, the additional 30,000. What will be determined at that date or going into that date will be the scale and scope of that reduction.
But there will be no doubt that that’s going to happen. And I know actually — I look at both of those, and they’re not inconsistent. But remember where we were on Afghanistan policy, that war had waxed and waned. And there really hadn’t been a focus on how to bring that war to — and the effort (INAUDIBLE), even with al Qaeda and Taliban, to a point given what was going on in Iraq.
When pressed further, Emanuel praised the utility of the timeline:
TAPPER: But it could be any number of people.
EMANUEL: That’s what you’ll evaluate based on the conditions on the ground. That is — but what had to happen prior to that was having a date that gave everybody, the NATO, international forces, as well as Afghanistan, that sense of urgency to move.
We can speculate that Obama doesn’t want to admit his error. Or we can assume that Emanuel is panicked about the turnout of the administration’s liberal base in November. (The DNC is apparently so desperate that they are spending millions to get college kids and other first-time 2008 voters to turn out in a midterm election.) But whatever the explanation, they are doing the opposite of what the military and bipartisan supporters of the war tell us must be done: dispel the image that we are getting ready to cut and run.
Some still insist that Obama fully understands the responsibilities of commander in chief and is dedicated to avoiding a hugely damaging defeat in a war he deemed critical. At this point, those people have the burden of proof. By Obama’s actions and words, the evidence is mounting that neither is true.