On Afghanistan And Iran
Let's be clear about what the right wing will be doing over the remainder of the year: they'll be telling us that Obama is wasting time on health care and spending our tax dollars on things here at home, when he should be spending his time bombing the crap out of Iran. There should be no mystery about that. And there should be no surprise from the White House that this will be the line of attack from the "just say no" crowd" heading into 2010. The GOP and the screamer base of the party needs another war to unify and focus their ragtag collection of extremists heading into 2010, and the president needs to be ready and combat this.
George Will gives a peak of this in his column today, but I don't think he's signaling what others think, who believe that he's taking the standard GOP line of blaming Obama in advance for failure. Will has already come out for leaving Iraq now, and for cutting to the chase and not making a nation-building commitment to Afghanistan. So what Will is really quibbling with today is that Obama has already enunciated what appeared to be his Afghanistan policy back in March, and yet he now wants to revisit it when the losses start piling up. I agree that Team Obama should have come into office knowing what they wanted to do in the region given the characters he had in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and shouldn’t now be telling General McChrystal to cool his jets while the strategy is being developed. What Will is advocating is for Obama to make a decision to run counter-terrorism in the region by remote control, drone, and Special Forces, and ditch any notion or commitment to nation building. And I agree.
But let's also be clear that our soldiers are dying in Afghanistan right now because of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney’s wet-dream pursuit of Saddam’s head, and their dereliction of duty in abandoning the Afghanistan mission before Al Qaeda and the Taliban were defeated. Having said that, and as is typical with everything Bush has touched in his life, Obama has inherited Bush’s mess and must deal with it.
As for Iran, talking is good, but the right wing will blast him for doing so because the “just say no” crowd of screamers in this country needs a war with Iran heading into 2010. There is no doubt that Iran has lied in the past and will lie in the future about its nuclear program, just like the Bush administration lied and botched things up in the region. But before Obama and Hillary start talking directly with Iran, they need to ask pointed questions not of Iran, but of China and Russia to find out if they are part of the solution, or should be outed as part of the problem. And it would help if Team Obama pointed out that the same folks who ignored health care, Iran, and Afghanistan for eight years now want to blame Democrats for the mess they in fact left him.
Unless of course that approach runs afoul of the "let's not look backward" mantra, in which case Obama has no one to blame but himself for a replay of the health care debacle.