An AEI/NYT Obama Afghan Slam

In today’s New York Times, Sheryl Gay Stolberg writes about how President Obama conducts himself in military affairs in comparison to Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History here and tells us the following…

Mr. Obama’s critics accuse him of trying to minimize the role of commander in chief. Several former Bush advisers said they were shocked that he had sent troops to Afghanistan without a formal public explanation.

“The contrast to Bush could hardly be more striking,” said Thomas Donnelly, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, calling it “L.B.J. and Vietnam-type behavior.”

Oh, that’s a good one – leave it to this AEI idiot to conjure up some imaginary linkage between Obama, who inherited the Afghan mess, and LBJ, who escalated the Vietnam War based on the faulty recommendations of his advisors, borne of their own hubris and disregard for the consequences (and here is Donnelly’s bio, by the way – if you can find actual military service in there, please let me know, because I couldn’t track it down).

I don’t agree with Obama’s plans to send 17,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, but the plan to do so has effectively been leaked to the media already; I don’t know what constitutes “a formal public explanation” in Stolberg’s book (this from Brave New Films basically argues that sending the 17,000 is kind of a silly “centrist Dem” strategy that really isn’t likely to achieve a military objective – either you go with the McCain/Holy Joe scheme of sending a massive force, which we really don’t have to spare at this point anyway, or you “walk away from the table” and rely on regional diplomacy).

Besides, the supposed lack of a “formal” explanation is hardly the issue here (Stolberg herself tells us that the Obama Administration is still in the planning stages on that). Dubya received the “formal” recommendations of the Iraq Study Group (focus on diplomacy, draw down in Iraq and redeploy to Afghanistan) in December 2006, but chose to do the exact opposite with the “surge” in January 2007 (as noted here, that ran counter to his policy as of June 2005 to withhold more troops, lest we “undermine our strategy of letting the Iraqis take the lead” – and what about the “formal” casualty count, as noted here?).

Basically, what good does a “formal” explanation do when it is beholden to the whims of a commander-in-chief who ignores recommendations of his counselors and acts in opposition to his own professed policy (and by the way, as K.O. noted the other night, there is no “formal” mention of Iraq in Dubya’s bio as part of his library’s web site…all class).

Obama still deserves the benefit of the doubt here IMHO, “formal” announcements or not. If he starts zig-zagging and contradicting himself on this issue and other matters as his predecessor did, THEN it would be OK to “pile on” as far as I’m concerned (and let’s keep the “Vietnam” comparisons in mothballs until then, please).


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