When a "Withdrawl" is not
by Jerome Armstrong, Tue Feb 24, 2009 at 11:28:27 AM EST
It's a trivial to argue about Obama not keeping his pledge to withdraw out of Iraq within 16 months, because the more substantive matter (aside from the matter of it being wrong for the US to continue its occupation) is whether the decision to remain longer is going to have repercussions for '10. For now, they've stated that troops will be drawn down to 30,000 to 50,000 troops in Iraq, 19 months from now.
It certainly is not anywhere close to a withdrawal, especially considering that, while ramping down in Iraq, the administration is already surging up more troops in Afghanistan.
From the US, there are currently 142,000 troops in Iraq, and about 38,000 troops are in Afghanistan. Obama's signed off on another 17,000 to go into Afghanistan, bringing that number to 60,000. The Soviet Union had 120,000 troops in Afghanistan, and you can look into the history books to see how that turned out. There's no real plan that's been put forward, beyond a surge (neither is 'buying time' a plan).
Putting aside all the arguments against diving deeper into Afghanistan, this is a losing strategy because its going to depress voter turnout among Democrats. Yes, 2/3rds of the total of voters back Obama's increase of troops in Afghanistan, but the numbers of support are soft; and especially among Democrats there's a strong current against this move. And the soft majority-support is only there because people still think the Afghanistan War is worth fighting. But even with those results, its split right down the middle on the US still being there 2 years from now.
Right now, the economy over-shadows everything, even a bankrupting policy of occupying countries in the middle-east. But there are many voters for whom this is their single-most important priority. In fact, it's just these voters that delivered Congress to the Democrats in 2006, and Obama to the Presidency in 2008. Now, I don't think we are anywhere near the possibility of Democrats losing a majority in either body of Congress in 2010. But, I do believe that our turnout could be negatively affected based on the above.And unfortunately, I don't see how the left has any leverage to use against Obama remaining in Iraq and Afghanistan with numbers well above 100,000 into the next decade. He was, after all, the "anti-war" candidate of the left, and many of his most ardent supporters would rather throw overboard the progressive gains from being against these idiotic occupations, than go against what Obama decides. We'll all lose from that decision.