Thursday :: Nov 19, 2009

Afghanistan: Broder Panics; House GOP Seeks Advice From Oliver North.

by Turkana

In Salon, Gene Lyons summarizes the stupid that is pressuring President Obama to escalate the war in Afghanistan:

Hurry, hurry. There's no time for thinking; it's time to act. Washington's permanent war lobby has worked itself into a veritable lather. The proper Pentagon press leaks have been made, Op-Eds written, talk show commandos deployed.

No less influential a military mind than the Washington Post's David Broder declares that even a bad decision about Afghanistan would be better than a postponed decision. Conceding that "a flood of leaks" has shown that "the perfect course of action does not exist," Broder nevertheless counsels haste. "[T]he urgent necessity," he writes, "is to make a decision -- whether or not it is right."

Read that again. Better to do something stupid, the man says, than for President Obama to ask too many tough questions.

Shorter Broder: when in doubt, panic. After all, it's only lives, our national security, and our strategic interests that are at stake.

And while the president very judiciously very deliberately weighs his options, in a no-win situation he inherited from an all-lose predecessor, the Republicans are turning to a new authority, to help them strategize.

Jonathan Allen, at Politico:

House Republicans have a new foreign policy adviser with a controversial pedigree: Oliver North.

North, an aide on Ronald Reagan's National Security Council who is best known for his role in the Iran-Contra scheme to sell arms to Iran and divert the funds to Nicaraguan revolutionaries in the 1980s, was the special guest at a House Republican Conference meeting on Tuesday. North was convicted on three counts related to the Iran-Contra scandal and his efforts to cover it up, but the convictions were later overturned.

Of course, Politico neglects to mention that the conviction were overturned on a technicality, and that North's brilliant efforts in Iran-Contra included helping trade arms for hostages, giving the hostage-takers an incentive to take more hostages. Brilliant on strategy, and specifically banned by law. I'm sure North has invaluable insights... "Brilliant" being a very relative concept, to Republicans...

Make no mistake. The pressure on the president is enormous, and not just from irresponsible idiots like Broder. CBS News recently reported some of the financial stakes:

In fiscal year 2009, for example, the civilian U.S. Agency for International Development awarded $20 million in contracts for work in Afghanistan, while the U.S. Army alone awarded $2.2 billion -- $834 million of it for construction projects. In fact, according to Walter Pincus of the Washington Post, the Pentagon has spent “roughly $2.7 billion on construction over the past three fiscal years” in that country and, “if its request is approved as part of the fiscal 2010 defense appropriations bill, it would spend another $1.3 billion on more than 100 projects at 40 sites across the country, according to a Senate report on the legislation.”

Follow the money. Because a lot of people have less than honest reasons to be pressuring the president. Amidst conflicting unsourced reports on his intentions, he continues to approach it cautiously. Let's hope he stands up to these pressures, and does the right thing.

Turkana :: 8:03 AM :: Comments (12) :: Digg It!