A Lack of General Confidence in Commander in Chief
So, many of the same voices whom the U.S. military and President Bush proved wrong about Iraq — Sen. Chuck Hagel (R., Nebraska) prominent among them — and stepping forward to offer their wisdom to President Obama on Afghanistan. My stance on the matter is much like my issue-by-issue stance on Iraq: The president is in a much better position to judge the situation than I am. I’d only advise that, whatever he does, he should ignore the weak-kneed alarmists who see failure at every turn.
One thing that is dissimilar to Iraq is my lack of confidence in the administration, and it’s not based only on general distrust. It’s based on this sort of rhetoric:
Asked whether the administration would consider reversing its strategy in the direction of withdrawal, a senior official said: “The president’s view is that there are a lot of good ideas out there and we should hear them all. When you come down to the question of governance, we’ve seen what happens when one viewpoint is not particularly debated or challenged or reviewed or measured.”
The reference is to the administration of George W. Bush, in which questions raised internally about the invasion of Iraq and detention policies for terrorism suspects were discouraged and quickly discounted.
Listening to all those darn good ideas is the core principle around which the strategy for this war is being developed? At some point (I would hope), the American people will become suspicious of the constant urge to answer questions with, “But wasn’t that last guy terrible?” Surely, it’s a glaring contradiction that candidate Obama ran for office with an End This War! plank only to reach office and find, well hey, we’re just about done, here, anyway.
The bigger issue, though, is that whether one agreed with his premises or not, President Bush stated his goals in Western and Middle Asia and pursued them. When it came time to debate strategy, at least the American people knew why we were there (even if some wouldn’t let go of kooky conspiracy theories). Obama’s Afghanistan venture feels more like a policy dabble.
Unless that changes — unless he articulates his rationale and defends it with the enthusiasm that he allocates for domestic priorities — perhaps we are better off withdrawing, because defeat will be in the air, already.