Posts Tagged ‘President Barack Obama’

Obama, the war president

February 9, 2010

by Helen Thomas, The Albany Times-Union (New York), Feb 8, 2010

President Barack Obama does have a foreign policy. It’s called war.

The President has not defined any real difference between his hawkish approach to international issues and that of his predecessor, former President George W. Bush.

Where’s the change we can believe in?

Bush left a legacy of two wars, neither of which was ever fully explained or justified. Obama has merely picked up the sword that Bush left behind in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In the struggle against terrorism, one might say, “Who cares?”

One group that cares consists of Americans who follow the rules and think we should honor all the treaties we have promoted and signed over the years.

The President gave short shrift to foreign policy in his State of the Union address, mentioning neither the lives lost nor the cost of the global hostilities that the U.S. has involved itself in. He also didn’t mention U.S. policies in the Middle East, though those are the root cause of many of our problems.

While U.S. special envoy George Mitchell has a hopeful outlook for the resumption of the stalemated talks between the Israelis and Palestinians after a year of trying, Obama seems to have temporarily thrown in the towel.

Obama said he was keeping his promise to leave Iraq by the end of August.

Meanwhile, frequent suicide bombings continue in that beleaguered country.

Afghanistan is a different story. U.S. forces there are involved in manhunts of al-Qaida and Taliban leaders. But the cost in civilian life is heavy when drones are used and whole families have been wiped out to get one suspected leader.

The U.S. seems to have convinced the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan that it’s their war too. The Washington Post said the loss of Hakimullah Mehsud has dealt a fatal blow to his followers.

The U.S. military web has spread to Yemen, where American intelligence teams have joined Yemeni troops in planning missions against al-Qaida elements. Scores have been killed there.

Then there’s the ramped-up U.S. saber-rattling toward Iran.

In his speech, Obama warned Iran of “consequences” if it didn’t play ball and co-operate on nuclear inspections. It’s unclear whether those consequences are of the financial variety or of a pre-emptive military strike by the U.S. or Israel.

All this comes at a time when the U.S. has bolstered its naval presence in the Persian Gulf and the neo-conservatives are calling for “regime change” in Iran.

But neo-con Robert Kagan, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment, sees the possibility of peaceful regime change in Iran. Organic regime change could change the Iranian equation, Kagan concludes in a Washington Post article.

Iran, reacting to Western pressure or from fear of an attack, recently offered to send its uranium abroad for enrichment for industrial use.

There are new tensions in other parts of the world. China is upset with the U.S. $6 billion-plus arms sale to its nemesis, Taiwan. China’s also irked at Google for its belated push-back against Chinese hacking into Google’s G-mail accounts.

So while the President’s Democratic base of support mutters about his abandonment of health reform and immigration reform, Obama can take solace in support from the Republican Party whenever he flexes U.S. military muscle.

And so this president takes his place among other U.S. chief executives who have sought the glory of leading the nation in military conflict. He has attained the desired status of “War President.”

© 2010 Albany Times-Union

Helen Thomas is a columnist for Hearst Newspapers. E-mail: helent@hearstdc.com.  Among other books she is the author of Front Row at The White House: My Life and Times.

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The Defense Industry Is Pleased with Obama

February 7, 2010

Laura Flanders, The Nation, Feb 3, 2010

Who says the president is failing to show leadership? In one area at least, there’s no sign of flag or falter. If anything, the administration’s only becoming more forthright. Sad to say, that area is military build-up.

Last year, the White House made a big deal of cutting a weapons program — the F-22 fighter jet — and the cuts conveniently obscured the growth in spending on unmanned aircraft or drones (the weapons that Pakistanis say killed a record 123 civilians in twelve attacks last month; 41 for every alleged Al Qaeda operative.)

This year, the president dispensed with the window dressing. No big deal about cuts — except on the domestic side. While the administration’s record $3.8 trillion budget cuts or freezes spending on domestic programs, it requests $708.3 billion for war. That’s $14.8 billion more than we’re spending now.

The total includes $548.9 billion for “regular” war, plus $159.3 billion for special spending on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Oh yes, the administration’s also asking Congress to increase spending on new nuclear weapons by more than $7 billion dollars over the next five years — despite that peace prize-winning pledge to cut the US arsenal and seek a nuclear weapons-free world.

The quote of the day comes from the CEO of a military contractor-funded policy group called the Lexington Institute. Loren Thompson tells Tuesday’s New York Times, “The defense industry is pleased but bemused… It’s been telling itself for years that when the Democrats got control it would be bad news for weapons programs. But the spending keeps going on.”

Take that you Nobel committee!

And to think some whiners complain about Democrats suffering from a lack of direction.

The F Word is a regular commentary by Laura Flanders, the host of GRITtv which broadcasts weekdays on satellite TV (Dish Network Ch. 9415 Free Speech TV) on cable, and online at GRITtv.org and TheNation.com. Follow GRITtv or GRITlaura on Twitter.com.

Obama’s lost Senate seat is a victory for Netanyahu

January 21, 2010
By Aluf Benn, Haaretz Correspondent, Haaretz/Israel, Jan 21, 2010
The Republican upset in the race for the U.S. Senate seat held for nearly half a century by liberal Edward M. Kennedy reflects a huge victory for opponents of U.S. President Barack Obama – and also for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Scott Brown defeated once-favored Martha Coakley for the Massachusetts seat even after U.S. President Barack Obama rushed to Boston on Sunday to try to save her candidacy.

Over the past nine months, Netanyahu has managed to curb pressure from Obama, who enjoys a Democratic majority in both houses of Congress. Now, however, Obama will be more dependent on the support of his Republican rivals, the supporters and friends of Netanyahu.

No Israeli politician matches his steps to the political goings-on in the U.S. as much as Netanyahu. He dragged out negotiations over the settlement freeze and then decided it would last for 10 months and end in September – just in time for U.S. Congressional elections in which Democrats are expected to suffer heavy losses.

Netanyahu understood he must withstand the pressure until his right-wing supporters recapture a position of power on Capitol Hill and work to rein in the White House’s political activities. The election in Massachusetts, one of the most liberal states in America, will from this moment on be a burden for Obama.

Proponents of the peace process will view this as a missed opportunity for Obama, who spent his first year in office on fruitless diplomatic moves that failed to restart talks between Israel and the Palestinians. From now on, it will be harder for Obama. Congressional support is essential to the political process and in the current political atmosphere in the U.S. – in which the parties are especially polarized – Netanyahu can rely on Republican support to thwart pressure on Israel.

If Obama’s popularity continues to dive and the Republicans recapture at least one of the houses of Congress in November, Netanyahu and his partners will be able to breathe deep and continue expanding settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Obama wants record $708 billion for military next year

January 15, 2010
Yahoo! News
Associated Press

By ANNE GEARAN and ANNE FLAHERTY, Associated Press Writers Anne Gearan And Anne Flaherty, Associated Press Writers Wed Jan 13, 2010

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama will ask Congress for an additional $33 billion to fight unpopular wars in Afghanistan and Iraq on top of a record $708 billion for the Defense Department next year, The Associated Press has learned — a request that could be an especially hard sell to some of the administration’s Democratic allies.

The extra $33 billion in 2010 would mostly go toward the expansion of the war in Afghanistan. Obama ordered an extra 30,000 troops for that war as part of an overhaul of the war strategy late last year.

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US Attack Kills 120 In Yemen

December 21, 2009

Obama Ordered U.S. Military Strike on Suspected “Terrorists”

By BRIAN ROSS, RICHARD ESPOSITO, MATTHEW COLE, LUIS MARTINEZ and KIRIT RADIA

December 18, 2009 “ABC News

On orders from President Barack Obama, the U.S. military launched cruise missiles early Thursday against two suspected al-Qaeda sites in Yemen, administration officials told ABC News in a report broadcast on ABC World News with Charles Gibson.

One of the targeted sites was a suspected al Qaeda training camp north of the capitol, Sanaa, and the second target was a location where officials said “an imminent attack against a U.S. asset was being planned.”

The Yemen attacks by the U.S. military represent a major escalation of the Obama administration’s campaign against al Qaeda.

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Opportunity Lost: Obama in Oslo

December 17, 2009

By Daniel C. Maguire , Consortiumnews.com, Dec 16, 2009

Editor’s Note: In his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in Oslo, President Barack Obama downplayed the bloodshed caused by scores of U.S. military interventions and covert operations over the past six decades – and sought to justify his own escalation of the eight-year-old war in Afghanistan.

In this guest essay, Daniel C. Maguire, a Professor of Ethics at Marquette University, found Obama’s effort disappointing and disingenuous:

Whether Obama deserved the Nobel Peace Prize is not the point. He didn’t. The fact is he got it, and was gifted with the chance of a lifetime to make a classic speech on the politics of peace-making, a speech that in the glare of Nobel could have attained instant biblical standing.

He failed miserably, producing a hodge-podge that resembled the work of a bright but undisciplined sophomore.

He hoisted his petard on the classical “just war theory,” a theory that, properly understood, condemns his decision to send yet more kill-power into Afghanistan.

This theory which is much misused and little understood is designed to build a wall of assumptions against state-sponsored violence, i.e. war. It puts the burden of proof on the warrior where it belongs.

It gives six conditions necessary to justify a war. Fail one, and the war is immoral. The six are:

(1) A just cause. The only just cause is defense against an attack, not a preemptive attack on those who might someday attack us. Obama flunked this one, saying our current military actions are “to defend ourselves and all nations from further [i.e. future] attacks.” President Bush speaks here through the mouth of President Obama.

(2) Declaration by competent authority: Article one Section 8 of the Constitution which gives this power to the Congress has not been used since 1941. Congressional resolutions instead yield the power to the President.
Obama: “I am responsible for the deployment of thousands of young Americans to battle in a distant land.” Sorry. Not according to the Constitution.

On top of that we are bound by treaty to the United Nations Charter. Article 2, Section 4 prohibits recourse to military force except in circumstances of self-defense which was restricted to responses to a prior “armed attack” (Article 51), and only then until the Security Council had the chance to review the claim.

Obama fails twice on proper declaration of war. He violates the UN Charter by claiming the right to act “unilaterally” and “individually.” Again, faithful echoes of President Bush.

(3) Right intention: This means that there is reasonable surety that the war will succeed in serving justice and making a way to real peace.

Right intention is befouled by excessive secrecy, by putting the burdens of the war on the poor or future generations, by denying the right to conscientious object to soldiers who happen to know most of what is going on, and by a failure to understand the enemy’s grievances.

Obama declares gratuitously: “Negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda’s leaders to lay down their arms.” So all we can do is send soldiers to kill them? Really? What negotiations have been tried to find out why they hate us and not Sweden, or Argentina, or China?

A pause for reflection might show that those and other countries are not bombing and killing civilians in three Muslim countries simultaneously. That could generate a little resentment. None of those countries not targeted by al Qaeda are financing Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian lands in violation of UN resolutions.

The processes of negotiation allow light to shine in dark corners. Realpolitik eschews the light.

(4) The principle of discrimination, or non-combatant immunity. The science of war has made this condition so unachievable that only the policing paradigm envisioned by the UN Charter could ever justify state-sponsored violence.

Police operate within the constraints of law, as a communitarian effort, with oversight and follow-up review to prevent undue violence. Obama’s allusion to “42 other countries” joining in our violent work in Afghanistan and Iraq mocks the true intent of the collective action envisioned by the UN under supervision of the Security Council.

It is a mere disguise for our vigilante adventurism.

(5) Last resort. If state-sponsored violence is not the last resort we stand morally with hoodlums who would solve problems by murder. Obama fails to see that modern warfare, including counterinsurgency, is not the last or best resort against an enemy that has four unmatchable advantages: invisibility, versatility, patience, and the ability to find safe haven anywhere.

The idea of a single geographic safe haven is a myth and an anachronism reflecting the age of whole armies mobilizing in a definable locus.

Obama’s speech showed no appreciation of the alternative of peace-making. A Department of Peace (which would be a better name for a revitalized and better-funded State Department) would have as its goal to address in concert with other nations tensions as they begin to build.

Neglected crises can explode eventually into violence. This is used to assert the inevitability of war when it is only an indictment of improvident statecraft.

(6) The principle of proportionality: Put simply, the violence of war must do more good than harm. In judging war the impact on other nations and the environment must also be assessed in the balance sheet of good and bad results.

This is a hard test for modern warriors to pass. Victory in war is an oxymoron. No one wins a war: one side may lose less and may spin that as victory. Obama’s faith in the benefits of warring in three Muslim countries is delusional.

President Obama in Oslo was more a theologian than a statesman. He gave a condescending nod to nonviolent power but his theology of original sin tilted him toward violence as the surest and final arbiter for a fallen humanity.

It is “a pity beyond all telling” that the “just war theory” he invoked condemns the warring policies he anomalously defended as he accepted the Nobel Prize for Peace.

Daniel C. Maguire, a Professor of Moral Theological Ethics at Marquette University, is the author of The Horrors We Bless: Rethinking the Just-War Legacy.

Obama’s Afghan escalation and the decay of democracy

December 16, 2009

Bill Van Auken, wsws.org, Dec 16, 2009

With President Barack Obama approaching his first anniversary in office, his escalation of the Afghanistan war is writing a new chapter in the history of Washington’s shredding of democratic forms of rule in order to further militarist aggression abroad.

This has become increasingly clear since the announcement earlier this month of the plan to send an additional 30,000 US soldiers and Marines to Afghanistan. It was further spelled out in Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize speech in Oslo, where he enunciated what has been widely described as the “Obama doctrine.”

The Obama doctrine incorporates all of the essentials of the Bush doctrine—preemptive war and the assertion of the right of the United States, as the world’s “sole military superpower,” to launch military aggression unilaterally as it sees fit. Obama’s contribution is to argue openly for the junking of existing international rules of war and the recognition of what was previously defined as aggressive war as a legitimate instrument of foreign policy.

Key passages of this hypocritical address tacitly recognized that imperialist war in general, and the US war in Afghanistan in particular, remain deeply unpopular at home and abroad.

Obama acknowledged the existence of “deep ambivalence about military action today, no matter the cause,” adding that this “is joined by a reflexive suspicion of America, the world’s sole military superpower.” He lamented a “disconnect between the efforts of those who serve and the ambivalence of the broader public.”

The US president dismissed popular antiwar sentiment in the US and around the world as naive. “Peace requires responsibility,” said Obama. “Peace requires sacrifice.” In short, peace requires war, whether those forced to die and to pay for it like it or not.

This theme has been further amplified since the Nobel speech, both by Obama and in the media.

In an interview broadcast Sunday on the CBS News program “60 Minutes,” Obama was asked why, under conditions where “most Americans…don’t believe this war is worth fighting,” he decided to escalate it anyway.

The president replied, “Because I think it’s the right thing to do. And that’s my job… If I was worried about what polled well there are a whole bunch of things we wouldn’t have done this year.”

Here Obama said more than he intended. This “bunch of things” includes his administration’s allocation of trillions of dollars to prop up Wall Street, while doing nothing to aid the millions who have lost their jobs, their incomes and their homes.

The “60 Minutes” segment was eerily reminiscent of interviews given by Vice President Dick Cheney in 2007 and 2008, as the Bush administration was carrying out its own “surge” in Iraq in the face of overwhelming opposition.

Appearing on Fox News in January 2007, Cheney dismissed the hostility of the American public to the war. “I don’t think any president worth his salt can afford to make decisions of this magnitude according to the polls,” he said.

Asked on ABC News in May 2008 if he didn’t “care what the American people think” about the war, Cheney replied, “No. I think you cannot be blown off course by the fluctuations in the public opinion polls.”

In Obama’s case, the indifference to the public’s hostility to war is all the more breathtaking since the Democratic president owes his 2008 election victory precisely to such sentiments.

The media, which universally hailed the Oslo address, has expanded on the theme that the will of the people must not be allowed to interfere with the waging of war. The New York Times published an editorial Monday admitting that in Europe “ambivalence has long been replaced by fierce demands for withdrawal” from Afghanistan. Indeed, polls in France and Germany have shown two-thirds of the public supporting an end to the US-NATO intervention.

In the face of such mass opposition, the Times counseled: “Democratically elected leaders cannot ignore public skepticism, but they should not surrender to it when they know better. Mrs. Merkel and Mr. Sarkozy must educate their voters to the harsh reality that Europe will also pay a high price if the Taliban and Al Qaeda get to retake Afghanistan and further destabilize Pakistan.”

Presumably, Washington has set the standard on how best to “educate the voters”: by frightening them with manufactured terrorist threats and deceiving them with phony pretexts for war.

The real motives driving US militarism are to remain hidden from the public. This was illustrated by Time magazine’s Joe Klein, a journalistic conduit for the political and national security establishment, in an article posted Sunday. Klein put forward the thesis that the US military had to remain in Afghanistan to forestall an Islamist-backed military coup in Pakistan and diminish the threat of war between Pakistan and India.

“Some of the best arguments about why this war is necessary must go unspoken by the president,” he wrote.

That is, there are the real reasons for the US war in Afghanistan and the fraudulent ones palmed off on the American people.

The most fundamental of these “unspoken” motives is the drive by US imperialism to assert its hegemony in a region containing some of the world’s largest energy reserves together with the pipelines to siphon them off to the West. It was this aim that led to US plans for war in Afghanistan being hatched long before September 11, 2001.

Obama is continuing and escalating a dirty colonial war to suppress popular resistance to foreign occupation and to secure the interests of the corporate and financial oligarchy that rules the US.

Despite systematic disinformation from the government and the mass media, millions of American working people have drawn their own conclusions from more than eight years of war in Afghanistan and more than six years in Iraq. The mass opposition to war, however, can find no means of expression within the existing political establishment. After going to the polls in both 2006 and 2008 to vote against war, the American people are confronted with the continuation and escalation of military aggression.

Neither the pursuit of imperialist wars in the face of public opposition, nor the execution of economic policies that defend the profits and wealth of the ruling elite at the expense of the rest of the population, can be carried out by democratic means. Both ultimately require methods of repression and intimidation. This is the fundamental reason that the Obama administration has kept intact all of the essential police state policies and institutions created under George W. Bush.

The fight against war, like the defense of democratic rights, can be waged successfully only through the independent mobilization of the working class against capitalism, which is creating intolerable conditions for billions of people around the world together with the threat of ever bloodier conflagrations.

Scott Ritter: Our Murderers in the Sky

December 12, 2009

Scott Ritter, Truthdig.com, Dec 12, 2009

War is hell, as the saying goes. Murder, on the other hand, is a crime. In this age of the “long war” pitting the United States against the forces of global terror, it is critical that the American people be able to distinguish between the two. The legitimate application of military power to a problem that manifests itself, directly or indirectly, as a threat to the legitimate national security interests of the United States, while horrible in terms of its consequences, is not only defensible but mandatory.

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Accepting peace prize, Obama makes case for unending war

December 11, 2009

David Walsh, wsws.org, Dec 11, 2009

In the most bellicose Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech within living memory, President Barack Obama made an argument Thursday in Oslo for ever-widening war and neo-colonial occupation, putting the world on notice that the American ruling elite intends to push ahead with its drive for global domination.

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Neo-Cons Get Warm and Fuzzy Over “War President”

December 5, 2009

Eli Clifton, Inter Press Service News

WASHINGTON, Dec 4 (IPS) – U.S. President Barack Obama’s plan for a 30,000-troop surge and a troop withdrawal timeline beginning in 18 months has caught criticism from both Democrat and Republican lawmakers.

But a small group of hawkish foreign policy experts – who have lobbied the White House since August to escalate U.S. involvement in Afghanistan – are christening Obama the new “War President”.

The response to Obama’s Tuesday night speech at the West Point Military Academy has largely been less than enthusiastic, with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle finding plenty in the administration’s Afghanistan plan that fails to live up to their expectations. Republicans have hammered the White House on Obama’s decision to begin a drawdown of U.S. forces in 18 months, while Democrats largely expressed ambivalence or dismay over the administration’s willingness to commit 30,000 more soldiers to a war seen by many as unwinnable and costly at a time when the U.S. economy is barely in recovery from the global financial crisis.

The White House’s rollout of the 30,000 troop surge did little to convince an already sceptical Congress, but foreign policy hawks who have accused the president of “dithering” in making a decision on Afghanistan are praising the administration’s willingness to make the “tough” commitment to escalate the U.S. commitment in the war in Afghanistan.

Indeed, their approval of the White House’s decision to commit 30,000 troops is the culmination of a campaign led by the newly formed Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI).

FPI held its first event in March, titled “Afghanistan: Planning for Success”, and a second event in September – “Advancing and Defending Democracy” – which focused on counterinsurgency in combating the Taliban and al Qaeda.

The newly formed group is headed up by the Weekly Standard’s editor Bill Kristol; foreign policy adviser to the McCain presidential campaign Robert Kagan; and former policy adviser in the George W. Bush administration Dan Senor.

Kagan and Kristol were also co-founders and directors of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), a number of whose 1997 charter members, including the elder Cheney, former Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld, and their two top aides I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby and Paul Wolfowitz, respectively, played key roles in promoting the 2003 invasion of Iraq and Bush’s other first-term policies when the hawks exercised their greatest influence.

The core leadership of FPI has waged their campaign in countless editorials and columns published in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and the Weekly Standard.

These articles have often been highly critical, at times suggesting that Obama’s unwillingness to give General Stanley McChrystal the 20,000 to 40,000 troops requested in his September report to Defence Secretary Robert Gates amounted to “dithering” and projected U.S. weakness to the Taliban, al Qaeda, and U.S. allies in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Senor described himself as, “pleasantly surprised” and “quite encouraged by the president’s decision” in a Republican National Committee sponsored conference call.

“It seems to me that Obama deserves even more credit for courage than Bush did, for he has risked much more. By the time Bush decided to support the surge in Iraq in early 2007, his presidency was over and discredited, brought down in large part by his own disastrous decision not to send the right number of troops in 2003, 2004, 2005 or 2006,” wrote Kagan in The Washington Post on Wednesday.

“Obama has had to make this decision with most of his presidency still ahead of him. Bush had nothing to lose. Obama could lose everything,” Kagan concluded.

The theme of heralding Obama as a stoic decision-maker in the face of an administration and Congress that seek to “manage American decline” – as Kagan wrote – was also echoed by Bill Kristol in The Washington Post on Wednesday.

“By mid-2010, Obama will have more than doubled the number of American troops in Afghanistan since he became president; he will have empowered his general, Stanley McChrystal, to fight the war pretty much as he thinks necessary to in order to win; and he will have retroactively, as it were, acknowledged that he and his party were wrong about the Iraq surge in 2007 – after all, the rationale for this surge is identical to Bush’s, and the hope is for a similar success. He will also have embraced the use of military force as a key instrument of national power,” wrote Kristol.

The heralding of Obama as “A War President” – which was the title of Kristol’s article in The Washington Post – is a striking change of tone from some of the same pundits who were vociferously attacking the administration for every major policy initiative as recently as last week.

“Just what is Barack Obama as president making of our American destiny? The answer, increasingly obvious, is…a hash. It’s worse than most of us expected. His dithering on Afghanistan is deplorable, his appeasing of Iran disgraceful, his trying to heap new burdens on a struggling economy destructive. Add to this his sending Khalid Sheikh Mohammed for a circus-like court trial,” wrote Kristol in the Nov. 23 edition of the Weekly Standard.

“The next three years are going to be long and difficult ones for our economy, our military and our country,” he wrote.

The hawkish Wall Street Journal editorial board – which on Sep. 10 suggested that Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize because he sees the U.S. “as weaker than it was and the rest of the planet as stronger”, and on Sep. 18 described the administration’s decision to scrap a missile defence agreement with Poland and the Czech Republic as following “Mr. Obama’s trend of courting adversaries while smacking allies” – also exhibited a noticeable change in tone in praising the White House’s decision to surge troop levels.

“We support Mr. Obama’s decision, and this national effort, notwithstanding our concerns about the determination of the president and his party to see it through. Now that he’s committed, so is the country, and one of our abiding principles is that nations should never start (much less escalate) wars they don’t intend to win,” said the Journal’s editorial board on Wednesday.

The board’s qualified endorsement of the White House’s war plan seems to reflect both the Republican concerns that Obama may use the 18-month deadline as an excuse to withdraw from Afghanistan before the Taliban and al Qaeda are defeated and foreign policy hawks – such as those at FPI – who are pleased with the administration’s decision to commit more fully to the war in Afghanistan.

Hawks, such as Kagan and Kristol, may have to argue in 18 months for an extension of the withdrawal deadline but in similarly worded statements they both expressed confidence that this would not be a problem.

“If we and our Afghan allied partners are succeeding [by July 2011], the timing [of the withdrawal] may make sense. If we aren’t it won’t. It will not be any easier for Obama to embrace defeat in 18 months than it is today,” wrote Kagan in the Washington Post in response to concerns about the timeline for withdrawal.

“[T]he July 2011 date also buys Obama time. It enables him to push off pressure to begin withdrawing, or to rethink the basic strategy, for 18 months. We’ve come pretty far from all the talk about off ramps at three or six-month intervals in 2010 that we were hearing just a little while ago,” Kristol wrote on the Weekly Standard’s blog on Tuesday.

For hawks like Kristol, Kagan and Senor who have been calling for a surge in U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan since August, Obama’s announcement on Tuesday night was a high-point in their campaign of op-ed’s, column’s and conference’s to push the Obama White House in the direction of an escalation in Afghanistan.

Kristol concluded his blog post on a confident note.

“In a way, Obama is now saying: We’re surging and fighting for the next 18 months; see you in July 2011. That’s about as good as we’re going to get.”


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