While President Obama is doing the Sunday morning and late night talk show circuit here in the States, hawking his healthcare plan, there seems to be a war going on in Afghanistan. No, seriously, you may have heard about it if you were paying close attention. I kid you not. I think you can Google it.
Now, I'm going to be right up front about this. George W. Bush screwed up this war by ignoring it to accomplish his mission in Iraq (this blog is not being written to debate the rights or wrongs of the Iraq war, so if you'd like to comment about that, there's plenty of other places on the internet to do so). Now, here's where Obama comes into the mess:
Obama campaigned on the very notion that Iraq was a war of choice, but Afghanistan was a war of necessity. He blamed Bush for letting us flounder in Afghanistan and insisted that he would come in with decisive action and do what was necessary to win this war.
There's a big problem with that, though. When has Obama ever taken decisive action?
As a Senator, the vast majority of votes for which he was in attendance, he voted "Present" - not yes, not no. As a candidate, his entire campaign was run on vagueries and platitudes. Change? What is change? As a President, he didn't author, or even co-author, the stimulus package, the omnibus bill, cap and trade, or the healthcare bills - his largest issues to-date. Instead, he said to his czars and Congress, "Here, write something and I'll back it." You can never pin the man down. Public option is a must. But, we don't have to have a public option. But I fully support a public option and insist there be one.
Maybe he not only doesn't want to be pegged down, maybe he doesn't need to be pegged down. I mean, is he really the guy running things in Washington? How could he be? I would imagine it would be difficult to perform your executive duties when all of your time is being spent in campaign mode...touring the country to do townhall meetings and make television appearances.
Now that he's President, he's kind of proven this point once again, in Afghanistan. Last month, General McChrystal issued a report stating that without a significant increase in troops by next year, the entire mission will end in failure. Pretty strong no-nonsense words.
The President's response? Well, you're going to have to wait.
Now, some will say, "That's fine! We don't want to be at war anyway!"
And, to them, I say, "That's fine. Then pull the troops."
See, Mr. Obama, you put McChrystal in charge and he's told you what he needs. Now you need to make a decision. I know that's difficult, but the operation in Afghanistan cannot continue the way it's going. We cannot change a nation if we're not willing to commit the resources. So now, the options are: Change the strategy or do what McChrystal says. Either way, the longer you leave it the way it is, the longer our troops are in harm's way.
To complicate things further for a man who doesn't like to make decisions, changing strategy can involve pulling out of Afghanistan completely or changing our focus specifically to rooting out Al Qaaeda. Rumors seem to be popping up that the latter is the way the administration wants to go, but the question is, why is it still a question?
McChrystal's report has been out for a month. And, even if a month wasn't enough time, Obama was telling us 6 months ago that he had a strategy, yet he's failed to produce just what that strategy is.
So, to use the President's words, Let Me Be Clear: I am not criticizing which path the President chooses to take. Afghanistan is different than Iraq in the sense that we had put Iraq into such a situation that our early withdrawal could have led to civil war and widespread slaughter, and eventually a new tyrant taking control. With Afghanistan, we haven't changed much. If we pull out, I'm okay with that, but we'd need to leave some level of special forces behind to keep Al Qaeda from regaining a foothold. If we change our focus, that's also good. If McChrystal is confident that a surge can succeed and that's the way Obama goes, fine.
But make a decision. Stop asking for more time while leaving our troops dangling in the wind. Unfortunately, it seems it's more important for this administration to pass a massive energy tax and destroy our healthcare than it is to make sure our country and our troops are safe and secure.
Disappointed? Yes. Surprised? No.
J.E. Braun is the author of Paranoia, a 9/11 survivor's tale. Jim survived 9/11, but his life did not. Follow one man's journey through post-traumatic stress as he attempts to rediscover what once made life worth living. 10% of profits from sales of Paranoia will be donated to the Twin Towers Orphan Fund (www.ttof.org). For more information, visit www.jebraun.com.