Some Predictions on Afghanistan
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Today – October 15, 2009 I would like to analyze what I see happening with the politics of the war in Afghanistan and where I predict things will go.
There seems to be an ongoing effort to make Vice President Joe Biden appear as an expert in foreign affairs. This despite the fact that he has heretofore been relegated to a position of near anonymity by this Administration. Why? I believe the answer is that President Obama has no intention of sending anything close to the 40,000 troops requested by General McChrystal, and he needs a fall guy. By painting Biden as the foreign affairs genius, he can put in a much smaller number of troops and say that Biden’s vast foreign policy experience is why he was selected as VP.
So why would he do this? First, as I said, it gives the President political cover as he refuses the requests of a General he hand-picked to run the theater in Afghanistan. Second, it buys him time to attempt to push through Health-Care reform. By appeasing his far left, and not completely alienating Democratic moderates he puts himself in prime position to weave a coalition of Democrats and very left-leaning Repbulicans (read Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins) to pass the Health-Care legislation. Frankly, I believe this is the primary reason since he knows that a total loss on Health-Care would be an unmitigated disaster for his Presidency. Third, he believes he can buy enough time in Afghanistan with fewer troops (or possibly not adding any at this time) to keep from losing there completely while he passes his domestic agenda. After this he may well get serious about Afghanistan.
So what are the predictions? Admittedly, I’m going to give myself a wide berth here, but here are my predictions:
- By the first week of November, the President will either: A) Decide to stand pat with his troop count and switch his strategy from counterinsurgency to counterterroism, or B) He will decide to send a much smaller amount of troops – probably on the order of 10,000. Either way, Biden is cover. The former would mean backing off and doing more by remote means such as drones – per Biden’s advice.
- Once Health-Care and Cap and Trade legislation (and possibly immigration reform) he will do a 180 on Afghanistan and ramp it up, knowing that it is the only way to actually be successful. He will then throw Biden under the bus (it’s getting crowded under there) and declare that he is doing what he should have done to begin with.
If Health-Care reform goes down in flames and there is nothing he can even remotely claim as a victory concerning the Health-Care agenda – all bets are off.
A final note. We should keep in mind that both Obama and Biden have shown themselves to be very wrong in matters of war. Obama famously opposed the surge in Iraq. The surge then went on to succeed and helped lead to his election. Biden has been just ridiculously wrong. He opposed the Gulf War, supported the Iraq invasion, called for a division of Iraq into three separate provinces, and opposed the surge.
For my part, I was against going into Iraq, but convinced that once there, we were morally bound to clean up our mess, and so I supported the surge.