While our Narcissus-in-Chief is frozen gazing at his perfect image in his private pool, choices have to be made in Afghanistan. Consider the following:
(a) We have a Democratically controlled Congress that by and large has supported, since 2004, the Kerry-Obama-Hillary Clinton narrative of a “good” war in Afghanistan, supposedly shamefully neglected by George Bush’s neo-con adventure in Iraq, but absolutely vital to the security of the United States, and one entirely winnable — if only we allot sufficient resources.
(b) We have a proven command in Generals McChrystal and Petraeus and their circle of subordinates, who crafted a winning counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq that defeated the terrorists, ensured stability for the fragile constitutional government, and took a tremendous toll on the human and material resources of al-Qaeda, as well as the reputation of radical Islam among the Middle East street.
(c) We have thousands of battle-hardened, experienced veteran soldiers and their officers, who know far more about the Middle East in general, and counter-insurgency in particular, than was true than when we first deployed to either to Afghanistan in 2001, or Iraq in March 2003.
(d) The Islamic world is much less in thrall (polls tell us that) to bin Laden and his advocacy of suicide bombing and terrorism than it was five years ago; Pakistan in general, the victim of numerous terrorist attacks, is far more willing to take concerted action that aids our cause than at any time in the last eight years. And we have a president who by his own admission resonates abroad in a way not true of the past, and will be given a level of international support not usually accorded to American efforts in the Muslim world.
(e) The president has a domestic opposition — entirely unlike that of George Bush’s — that is eager to support President Obama to fulfill his promise to win Afghanistan by devoting more resources to the effort.
(f) We have a media mesmerized by Obama, that will withhold criticism of him in Afghanistan in a way that was simply not true of the Bush effort in Iraq, that, nonetheless, proved successful.
(g) We have a split public, but one far more amenable to a surge in Afghanistan than was true in late 2006 of the proposed surge in Iraq.
(h) We should be bolstered by our success in Iraq, and the enemy demoralized by its failure; rather than vice versa.
Given the above, and given that George Bush made a far more difficult choice that saved Iraq, it is hard to figure out why Obama can not make a simple decision to send troops requested by commanders on the ground.