By lex, on September 28th, 2009
Ross Douthat postulates that there may be worse things than cutting and running from the Af, worse even than trying to muddle through or split the difference between the augments the forward commander has requested and the forces currently arrayed:
(I heard a) theme, in public and private, from many counterinsurgency advocates last week. Having recently described Afghanistan as a “war of necessity,” they asked, can the president really turn down a request for more troops from a general he himself appointed to support a campaign that he personally endorsed?
The answer is very likely no. However serious his doubts about escalation, Obama seems boxed in — by the thoroughness of McChrystal’s assessment and the military’s united front, by his own arguments across the last two years and by his party’s long-running insistence on painting Afghanistan as the neglected “good war.”
But if Obama takes us deeper into war out of political necessity rather than conviction, the results could be disastrous.
He’s got to believe it’s possible to forge something like a victory, and that the cost of doing so is less than the consequences of outright retreat and failure. He’s got to commit not just forces, but his presidency.
If he can’t – if in the depths of his soul he can’t – then he would be right to ditch the whole project before any more damage is done, before even one more soldier or Marine dies in a cause their commander in chief does not believe in. He can even blame it on Bush, if that gets him through the night.
It’s a tough place to be for a 47-year old half term Senator with a background in community organizing. But this is the job he fought for, and these are the choices he faces.
But he needs to remember that he’s not facing them alone. That his actions – and even his inaction – has consequences.
It’s time to man up and pull the trigger, Mr. President. One way or the other.