When a "Withdrawl" is not

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.

Tags: 2010, Afghanistan, Iraq (all tags)



Obama was never anti-war

Just anti Iraq-war.  He always said he would ramp up the operations in Afghanistan.

Your other points are valid!!

by Ravi Verma 2009-02-24 11:38AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama was never anti-war

My point was that he was anointed the anti-war candidate, in large part based on his speech, and Clinton's support of the invasion. I don't think the nuance you propose (and I agree with) is going to cut mustard with the main problem, which you see as well.

by Jerome Armstrong 2009-02-24 11:41AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama was never anti-war

Fair enough.

A larger looming political problem, which you only hinted at, is what happens if ("when") the expanded military mission in Afghanistan does not pan out.  He, obviously, does not have the political space to cut a deal with the Taliban... so it will have to be a military thing, one way or the other.

What are the consequences in 2012 ?  As you said, his support is a mile wide and an inch deep...

by Ravi Verma 2009-02-24 11:48AM | 0 recs
It will cut mustard.

The Afghanistan invasion was extremely popular and there is still strong support for a troop presence there.  

It's a pretty big "nuance" to distinguish between Iraq and Afghanistan.  The talking point for everyone who was anti-Iraq war and to the right of people like Ted Rall and Alexander Cockburn, including Obama on many occasions, was that Iraq was a bad idea in part because it took resources and attention away from Afghanistan.

by JJE 2009-02-24 12:09PM | 0 recs
will not...

Dude, that poll is over a year old that you linked too, major poll faux pas for a political junkie!

I've linked to two recent polls in the entry.

by Jerome Armstrong 2009-02-24 12:18PM | 0 recs
faux pas or no

I don't see any support for your assumption that voters can't distinguish between Iraq and Afghanistan in the more recent polls.

Also, the poll I cited is 5 months old, not a year.

by JJE 2009-02-24 01:42PM | 0 recs
Anointed Anti-War Candidate

By who? If someone anointed Obama as the anti-war candidate they were not listening or paying attention. He never said he was anti-war from the get go, just anti dumb wars - IRAQ. He said he would have voted against the Iraq war not Afghanistan.

by jsfox 2009-02-24 12:10PM | 0 recs
Re: Anointed Anti-War Candidate

Moveon, The Nation... did you miss the spring of '08?


Same point as went to Jonathan below. This is the sort of semantic ("you were not listening to what he said") game that you can convince among people who would vote/support whatever Obama says. The point is, many people that vote Democratic (more than either Independent or Republican) do not support a continued occupation of any number in the middle east.

by Jerome Armstrong 2009-02-24 12:16PM | 0 recs
In Iraq, yes

but he was very VERY clear about leaving in residual troops, they all were, so only an idiot would come out and now and said "I thought Obama would withdraw completely!"

And the only reason he was anointed the "anti-war" candidate is because he opposed going to war in the first place...not because he wanted to get everyone out on Day One.

by DTOzone 2009-02-24 12:22PM | 0 recs
Re: Anointed Anti-War Candidate

Obama was as much an "anti war candidate" as he was the "worst candidate in your lifetime."

Your continual anti-obama diatribes are more pedantic than substantive.

by lojasmo 2009-02-24 02:26PM | 0 recs
Re: Anointed Anti-War Candidate

check. You qualify, last paragraph is meant for you.

by Jerome Armstrong 2009-02-24 04:39PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama was never anti-war

When are you going to get over the primary?

by Lolis 2009-02-24 01:15PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama was never anti-war

I was anti Iraq war only and I supported Obama based on that. However, I have become skeptical of the Afghanistan military efforts only because the US may have missed its window of opportunity to make some kind of difference there.

The economy is a greater threat to American lives when you factor in depression, poor healthcare , dangerous crumbling infrastructure as risk factors.
So I do not support Afghanistan military efforts anymore unless there is a really good plan. I place the burden on the Obama administration to prove that it will work.

by Pravin 2009-02-24 01:33PM | 0 recs
Re: When a "Withdrawl" is not

Other than three month longer I'm not sure this announcement differs at all with anything Obama has said in the past. He always said there would be a residual force left in place for training and security. You can argue 30-50K is not a residual force, but those numbers have been out there for some time. This shouldn't come as some surprise.

As to Afghanistan, yes, I agree buying time is not a strategy, but a tactic while the 60 day review goes on. Now, if after that 60 day review happens and there is still no clear strategy, which includes and exit strategy then I'll get worried about being bogged down and 2010.

by jsfox 2009-02-24 11:46AM | 0 recs
the problem is Pakistan

well the problem with withdrawing from afghanistan is now "how will that effect pakistan?"

we're in the awkward position of the taliban growing in strength there.
 and we can't let them destabilize pakistan because they have nuclear weapons.

in short, we can't separate pakistan from afghanistan anymore. We can't let pakistan risk further destabilization, because that really could lead to WMD in extremist hands.

i pity Obama, he got totally hosed by Bush

by theninjagoddess 2009-02-24 11:49AM | 0 recs
Re: When a "Withdrawl" is not

Do anti war people perceive of Afghanistan as the same as Iraq?

Also, do they see a drawdown of 19 months as significantly different than 16?

Finally, did they believe Obama would end the war immediately over over time?

Unless we know the answers to those questions, I am not sure what to think about what you wrote.

by bruh3 2009-02-24 11:53AM | 0 recs
Re: When a "Withdrawl" is not

al qeada is still a major threat we should not leave the afghanistan/pakistan border region until we cripple their terrorist infrastructure

I agree with most of the post  but look at this scenario..Obama does a complete withdrawal from Afghanistan before dealing with AQ and perhaps they plan a attack on the US again? not only will Barack not be re-elected but no dem will have a chance for years  ( I don't mean to sound like Dick cheney)

by wellinformed 2009-02-24 11:55AM | 0 recs
Re: When a "Withdrawl" is not

"Putting aside all the arguments against diving deeper into Afghanistan, this is a losing strategy because its going to depress voter turnout among Democrats."

Unlike the last guy, President Obama is going to put national security ahead of party politics.  If you don't like it Jerome, there's plenty of room for you in GOP.

by jkfp2004 2009-02-24 12:02PM | 0 recs
Re: When a "Withdrawl" is not

Congrats, you have the credentials to qualify for the last paragraph.

by Jerome Armstrong 2009-02-24 12:07PM | 0 recs

Of course, you've been wrong more than right on predictions over the last two years.  I guess we shall see.

by 30000Fine 2009-02-24 12:04PM | 0 recs
Re: Maybe

Actually, this, Obama being no different than Clinton in regards to Iraq and Afghanistan, is one of them that I was most right on about.

by Jerome Armstrong 2009-02-24 12:06PM | 0 recs
Re: Maybe

I don't think that a lot of the people who supported Obama as the "anti-war" candidate did so because they thought that his policies would be materially different GOING FORWARD in Iraq/Afghanistan.  Much of the appeal of Obama related to the actions that he (and by contrast, Clinton) had already taken.

by DreamsOfABlueNation 2009-02-24 12:56PM | 0 recs
Re: Maybe

Yeah, it is pretty obvious now that "anti-war" was rhetorical cover for anti "that woman," at least among "progressive" bloggers. Policy positions didn't matter to them, they couldn't stand Hillary Clinton herself. Besides, most of them were early war supporters.

That is less the case for voters generally, they bought Obama's anti-war rhetoric and thought that meant his policies would be substantially more peace oriented than Hillary Clinton's. Obama was very careful to obscure his policies on Iraq to sustain that impression.

Obama's ambiguity prevented him from being boxed in as president, which is arguably a good thing on the substance. But Jerome is correct to point out the political risks in overturning the perception of many voters.

by souvarine 2009-02-24 01:36PM | 0 recs
Re: Maybe

Right. The same thing occurred when Obama faced the vote, in the Spring of 2008, of whether to continue funding the war. Of course, he would have voted for it, like he did every other previous vote; but he had a perception that would have crumbled, hence he flipped. This time, its not a campaign moment, but it will be in 2010.

by Jerome Armstrong 2009-02-24 04:42PM | 0 recs
Re: Maybe

Those who supported Obama as the anti-war candidate had good reason to do so even if they knew that the range of his policy options going forward would be relatively narrow and his choices among these options would likely be similar to Clinton's.  It is one thing to want to cut funding for troops that are already in the field and another to authorize the use of force in the first place.  The concern among most Obama supporters was that the serious lack of judgment shown by Clinton in voting for the AUMF revealed her less than admirable commitment to finding peaceful resolutions to international conflicts.  Obama's unwillingness to leave soldiers exposed without supplies on the frontline can hardly be equated to this blunder.

by DreamsOfABlueNation 2009-02-24 05:32PM | 0 recs
Re: When a "Withdrawl" is not

He didn't run on this? A drawdown taking about a year and a half, followed by a residual force in Iraq, and an increase in troops for Afghanistan?

by Jonathan Singer 2009-02-24 12:07PM | 0 recs
Re: When a "Withdrawl" is not

A "drawdown" to 30-50K troops is a withdrawal?  How many troops did he promise to send into Afgahnistan?

Regardless, this is the sort of semantic game that you can convince among people who would vote/support whatever Obama says. The point is, many Democrats do not support a continued occupation of any number-- that should be plain.

by Jerome Armstrong 2009-02-24 12:10PM | 0 recs
Re: When a "Withdrawl" is not

no, you just never paid attention to his policies, he always said he would leave force of around 30,000 troops in iraq.

further, we can't leave afghanistan as long as the taliban is destabilizing pakistan because we have to be ready to secure their nuclear material.

by theninjagoddess 2009-02-24 12:18PM | 0 recs
Re: When a "Withdrawl" is not

This is correct. Chris Bowers put up a chart last year about this time that made it clear exactly what were Obama's position on this issue. Obama clearly always supported residuals.

by bruh3 2009-02-24 12:19PM | 0 recs
Re: When a "Withdrawl" is not

no, he said that and he took it back and said near the region, not necessarily in Iraq.  He backed away from it, as if he got it, that Iraqis don't want occupation on their soil, (none of them do).  He didn't say we needed to leave a stable Iraq until he'd won the nom, that was Bush's line, we have to leave a stable Iraq. Well, we can't, that means we won't leave at all.  I doubt he'll reduce troops by much until the military brass has to tell him our troops are no longer capable of serving more tours. Too much depression, drug abuse, alcoholism, PTSD, and family problems. We didn't just break the military on bush's adventure, we broke men and women.

by anna shane 2009-02-24 12:27PM | 0 recs
Re: When a "Withdrawl" is not

...and all of a sudden we have neo-con progressives that clamor for more...

by Jerome Armstrong 2009-02-24 12:32PM | 0 recs
WTF is that supposed to mean?

by DTOzone 2009-02-24 12:34PM | 0 recs
Have you not heard

Afghanistan and Iraq are the same country and to contend otherwise is to engage in meaningless semantic game-playing spurred on by Obama Kool-Aid.

by JJE 2009-02-24 01:55PM | 0 recs
Re: When a "Withdrawl" is not

again that's not what was written on various blogs about this subject during the primary or ge- where are you getting your information?

by bruh3 2009-02-24 12:34PM | 0 recs
Re: When a "Withdrawl" is not

i was writing about it during the primary, it was my issue, and the main reason I chose her over him.  

by anna shane 2009-02-24 01:08PM | 0 recs
Re: When a "Withdrawl" is not

then you should be able to link to something saying what you claim. nothing personal but people project things onto candidates al the time. that;s why I try to listen to what the candidates are actually saying. in terms of armstrong's basic argument, i dont see anything that says obama ever says what he is saying or what you are saying about the candidates. so again, i need you to link me to the proof,a nd then include in your post the quotes you claim say what you believe he said. again, this should be an easy task.

by bruh3 2009-02-24 01:21PM | 0 recs
Re: When a "Withdrawl" is not

oh, should I?  

by anna shane 2009-02-24 03:19PM | 0 recs
Re: When a "Withdrawl" is not

Actually at this point I don't care. I asked you for what I have already given- namely proof of my claim. It's the least you can do to be credible.

by bruh3 2009-02-24 04:25PM | 0 recs
Re: When a "Withdrawl" is not

again that's not what was written on various blogs about this subject during the primary or ge- where are you getting your information?

http://www.openleft.com/showDiary.do?dia ryId=1169

This says in part:

"Now that it is coming into clearer focus, how does the Clinton plan for Iraq withdrawal compare to other plans? For one, it is very similar to Obama's  (emphasis mine):

Senator Obama introduced legislation in January 2007 to offer a responsible alternative to President Bush's failed escalation policy. The legislation commences redeployment of U.S. forces no later than May 1, 2007 with the goal of removing all combat brigades from Iraq by March 31, 2008 -- a date consistent with the bipartisan Iraq Study Group's expectations. The plan allows for a limited number of U.S. troops to remain in Iraq as basic force protection, to engage in counter-terrorism and to continue the training of Iraqi security forces.

The tasks that Obama lists for American troops to conduct in Iraq are virtually identical to those listed in the Clinton legislation for redeployment, the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group, and those proposed by the Center for a New American Security. It appears that both Clinton and Obama would keep 40,000 troops in Iraq for a while if they become President, plus between 6,000 and 20,000 advisors and an always unspecified numbers of private contractors. I actually feel very confident in these numbers at this point, given how they have repeatedly appeared in several sources."

So- again- please provide references by citation.

by bruh3 2009-02-24 12:37PM | 0 recs
Re: When a "Withdrawl" is not

read the transcript of the Texas debate.  

by anna shane 2009-02-24 01:09PM | 0 recs
Re: When a "Withdrawl" is not

link to it and include the quote of the section that you believe says wha tyou claim. your post is virtually meaingless.

by bruh3 2009-02-24 01:14PM | 0 recs
Re: No

Actually, Richardson campaigned on this specifically. I wrote up an entry that goes into the matter. Here was my hope:

Regardless of whom the Democratic presidential candidate is, if we have a strong distinction to run against the Republicans over the issue of ending the occupation of Iraq, we will win. If the Democrats end the occupation as soon as possible in 2009, and not occupy Iraq a day longer than necessary, the party will be rewarded with gains in 2010. Then, following a successful majority redistricting, a decade-long congressional super-majority can culminate in 2012. But making that happen, and getting that endorsement for a progressive agenda for America, begins with fulfilling the promise to get out of Iraq as soon as Democrats take control of the government (and not fucking unilaterally then head into Pakistan or buildup in Afghanistan, or Iran, or any other middle east country, either, ever again).

by Jerome Armstrong 2009-02-24 12:23PM | 0 recs
I assumed he was talking about the big three

Edwards, Obama and Clinton

by DTOzone 2009-02-24 12:27PM | 0 recs
Re: I assumed he was talking about the big three

It's not like Richardson was being genuine anyway...

by Jerome Armstrong 2009-02-24 12:31PM | 0 recs
Re: When a "Withdrawl" is not

Another semantics issue...

while he may have explicitly only promised to send more troops to Afghanistan (to focus there), he was implicitly promising to "win" there.  His support is preconditioned on a win scenario..

by Ravi Verma 2009-02-24 01:25PM | 0 recs
Re: When a "Withdrawl" is not

Um.  We currently have 70,000 troops in Germany.  Are you arguing that we never withdrew after WWII?

You are looking pretty silly here.

by lojasmo 2009-02-24 02:30PM | 0 recs
If there was such a thing as blogging...

...in 1993, I'm sure this would have appeared many times back then...simply juxtapose the years:

...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.

Mid-terms...with another year, easily, of depression-like numbers yet to post, primarily due to Bush's laissez-faire terms at our nation's helm...GOP'ers counting on voters' attention spans to be about as long as it takes to read a sentence or watch a 60-second commercial...so, by that time "this'll all be Barack Obama's fault."

Regrettably, I don't think 2010's necessarily going to be as much of a sure thing for us Dems as most might think/indicate.

by bobswern 2009-02-24 12:08PM | 0 recs
Re: If there was such a thing as blogging...

2010 and 2009 are not 1993. The key difference being that the alternative is not one the American public is willing to consider. The choice is not between policies that are untested and may work versus what we do. It's between failed policies that have proven not to work (by the GOP) that the GOP plans to continue to push forward versus what we do. Thus, the issue as I see it is Americans will be asked to choose between a lesser of two evils- a failed approach that they know will fail because they already feel the results or the perenial weak party that is the Democratic Party. My guess is that they will choose us because the alternative is worse.

by bruh3 2009-02-24 12:13PM | 0 recs
I'd gladly settle for that result. n/t

by bobswern 2009-02-24 12:45PM | 0 recs
Re: If there was such a thing as blogging...

Exactly. It's all public opinion. Back then, there was outrage over spending from the government and the national debt. And people still had fairly warm memories of Ronald Reagan. Not only that, the military/foreign relations achievements were fairly substantial, even if questionable in hindsight.

Exactly what could anyone POSSIBLY remember fondly about Bush's presidency? All the principles that ed to the rise of the Republicans back then (family values, lowering the debt, smaller government) have been exhausted by now. Like it or not, the public's appetite has shifted away from such principles, likely for good.

by vcalzone 2009-02-24 02:02PM | 0 recs
Re: If there was such a thing as blogging...

I should point out that this view is precisely why I say Obama should be more aggressive on domestic policy. The fact is that the public has went through hell under the GOP's rule in the last 15 years. This is exactly why we need not fear a 1994 situation,a nd should pursue the correct policies regardless of the GOP's position at our most aggressive posture.

by bruh3 2009-02-24 03:04PM | 0 recs
pakistan has nukes, so we can't leave
seriously guys, we can't leave that region as long as even a hint of destabilization is in pakistan. because we have to be sure that their nuclear weapons are being properly secured.
we can't let them fall into extremist hands.
by theninjagoddess 2009-02-24 12:20PM | 0 recs
Re: When a "Withdrawl" is not

I honestly don't think there's any consensus on our side re: Afghanistan.  Didn't Obama campaign on adding at least one additional military division in Afghanistan, causing McCain to double whatever Obama proposed in order to appear tougher on terrorism?  I distinctly recall that campaign maneuvering.  Furthermore, it's unclear what will emerge from the 60-day review.

As for Iraq, we shall see.  The figures discussed would still represent a major reduction in forces there.

by rfahey22 2009-02-24 12:22PM | 0 recs
no surprise

but big sadness. He said we'd get out as responsibly as we went in irresponsibly, and there is no responsible way to get out. We have to just leave, and let them sort out the internals.

Hillary was the only clear one, she admitted there was nothing for us to win, and that we could not stabilize Iraq, it's unstable, it'll stay unstable until they fight it out between themselves.  She said if things improved we'd leave, and if they got worse we'd leave and that there could well be a bloodbath after we leave, but while we're there there will be no end, and if we leave there will be an end. She said no permanent bases there.

I think this was a girl/boy one. Nixon didn't want to be a president who lost a war, so he kept going in Vietnam and tried a few bad ideas to make it end that made things worse.  Barack says we have to leave a stable Iraq, which means we'll never leave and while we're there our troops will be targets of those who don't want occupation and/or want to take revenge on us four our past misdeeds, or whatever.

He's making an even bigger mistake in Afghanistan, although Hillary also said she'd increase troop levels there too, which I strongly disagreed with.  There has to be an plan for that region, not just throwing more our our kids to kill and be killed.  

Barack didn't out and out lie, but he didn't say that he wanted things to be stable when we left until he'd won the nomination.  he saves that little nugget for when he was our only chance.  

by anna shane 2009-02-24 12:22PM | 0 recs
Um, wrong

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York would leave residual forces to fight terrorism and to stabilize the Kurdish region in the north.

http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/08/11/a merica/exit.1-113300.php

Even John Edwards said he's keep some troops there.

by DTOzone 2009-02-24 12:26PM | 0 recs
Re: Um, wrong


by Jerome Armstrong 2009-02-24 12:27PM | 0 recs
To stablize an entire region of the country

I would imagine 30-50k is about the right number.

I felt Hillary had the best plan for Iraq because she knew we had to get out in increments that may take years, and we should leave behind a force to keep the place stable and remove them even more slowly. I laugh at the indication that she was somehow championing full withdrawal...she was not, she was most responsible with her answers on Iraq, and was willing to face the ire of the "get out now" crowd and that's why I supported her on Iraq.

by DTOzone 2009-02-24 12:31PM | 0 recs
Re: To stablize an entire region of the country

Really?  I have her on video from Iowa where she said they would all be out within 12 months. iirc, she talked about having any troops that would resurface, for a problem, outside the country.

But whatever, I didn't really believe she would do any different than what Obama is doing now. But I did believe that the left would be able to hold her feet to the fire.

by Jerome Armstrong 2009-02-24 12:35PM | 0 recs
Re: To stablize an entire region

we can't know, but she was totally clear and he never was, she left herself no wiggle room. She said all troops, all contractors, all civilian Iraqis who worked for us, possible bloodbath when we leave, if we're doing well we're out of there, not doing well out of there, and she'd expect a plan on her desk day one on troop removal, not on whether or not the place is stable.  

by anna shane 2009-02-24 03:17PM | 0 recs
Re: To stablize an entire

oh, do you?  Really, taking out everyone and accepting the big possibility of a blood bath when we leave is hardly an 'incremental' process. She  said we had to bring everyone out safely, and that requires coordination, she did not say we had a job to do first.  

by anna shane 2009-02-24 12:36PM | 0 recs
She did so

she made it very clear that she would leave some forces in there to stablize the Kurdish north and "fight terrorism"

What world were you living in?

by DTOzone 2009-02-24 12:37PM | 0 recs
Re: She did so

read the texas debate, Barack was forced to say that his troops wouldn't necessarily be inside Iraq.  

by anna shane 2009-02-24 03:18PM | 0 recs
Re: Um, wrong

She didn't specify.  Also, see my Germany post above.  Also, edit your typo/title.

by lojasmo 2009-02-24 02:32PM | 0 recs
Re: Um, wrong

not the same thing.  She said not on Iraqi soil, and not to stabilize,  Strike forces in the area, which we had before bush's adventure.

She said we had to take out all our troops, all contractors, and all Iraqi's who helped us because they'll be in danger when we leave. She said she'd cancel bush's no-bid contracts and open them to international investors, in Iraq and the middle east, as well as Europe, so that others would have a financial stake in Iraqs success.

I used to write diaries called senator obama debate this at dkos, asking him to be clear about his exit strategy and he never was, and she always was.  But somehow he was seen as the guy who'd get us out of Iraq, go figure.  Don't say she's the same as he on this one, that's just not true at all.  

Let him cancel the contracts, let him start there?  

by anna shane 2009-02-24 12:33PM | 0 recs
Either you're wrong

or I supported the wrong person during the primaries because that's not the Hillary Clinton I saw.

She might have been clearer on strategy, but she did not say she would take out every single soldier off Iraqi soil. I never remember her saying that...ever

by DTOzone 2009-02-24 12:39PM | 0 recs
Re: Um, wrong

above I have a post by Chris Bowers covering Obama's plan versus Clinton. they were virtually identical. What does your post mean?

by bruh3 2009-02-24 12:40PM | 0 recs
Re: C'mon anna

safe for the troops to get out, no helicopters crashing while leaving. But now Barack's there, so, it's all okay enough.  

by anna shane 2009-02-28 01:56PM | 0 recs
Dennis Ross

The fact that Dennis PNAC Ross served as a foreign policy adviser to the Obama campaign was an instant tip off that Obama was not serious about changing the direction of our foreign mis-policy.

by Alice Marshall 2009-02-24 12:24PM | 0 recs
Re: When a "Withdrawl" is not

Yeah, so there's a little thing called the status of forces agreement, which mandates that even residual forces and contractors would have to leave by the end of 2011.  And Obama has said he will abide by it.  So everyone's preferred little residual forces game was canceled out by the Iraqis, who demanded a full withdrawal.  In a sense it doesn't matter when combat troops go out, the full forces will have to leave by the end of 2011 to comply with the SOFA.

If Obama decides not to comply, I'll be out in the streets.  Because that would be a deadly decision both for our troops still in Iraq with huge targets on their backs and for global cooperation.  But so far, every indication is that he will comply.

Why nobody writing about Iraq understands that there's a signed bilateral agreement for total withdrawal by the end of 2011 is puzzling.

by dday 2009-02-24 12:37PM | 0 recs
Re: When a "Withdrawl" is not

Well, the perspective on this post was about the ramifications for the '10 midterms and turnout among the antiwar left that votes Democratic.

I hope you are correct about '11 compliance, but we'll see what happens; and '10 will likely play a big role in that determination.

by Jerome Armstrong 2009-02-24 12:45PM | 0 recs
Re: When a "Withdrawl" is not

Of course, the end combat troop withdrawal date of August 2010 is calibrated to kick off the midterms.  We'll obviously see how that goes, but I see antiwar sentiment far stronger against escalation in Afghanistan than against a residual force with a hard end date in Iraq.

by dday 2009-02-24 06:48PM | 0 recs
I think the current policy in Iraq is a tad bit

messed up. We are still in the business of picking winner and losers. The Shiite Arabs are the governing majority and the Sunni Arabs are not doing bad either with our support. However we are still neglecting the Kurds who had been steadfastly our friends in the region. Talk about unrequited love. I think we should move our troops out mostly out of Iraq, keeping the remaining in bases in Kurdistan and Kuwait.

Afghanistan is a different ballgame. We'll be there in Afghan-Pakistan for a while. Lot of our success depends on how much leverage and support we can get from Afghans, Pashtuns and the nations bordering Afghanistan. And yes that means we have to play it diplomatically with Central Asian dictators, Russia and possibly Iran...And we might have to show tough love when needed to Pakistan military and ISI especially when dealing with Al Qaida and Taliban.

by louisprandtl 2009-02-24 12:38PM | 0 recs
Is that DELIBERATELY misspelled?

by Maryscott OConnor 2009-02-24 01:07PM | 0 recs
Re: Is that DELIBERATELY misspelled?


by Jerome Armstrong 2009-02-24 01:16PM | 0 recs
Re: When a "Withdrawl" is not

I'm confused.

The Barack Obama I supported in the primaries said he would drawdown in Iraq over a year or two and increase our presence in Afghanistan.  More than once.  That was a good portion of the reason I supported him.

Who is this antiwar Obama?  He seems like a strawman.

by Dreorg 2009-02-24 01:07PM | 0 recs
Obama never claimed he is a pacifist. In fact he

supported the Afghan war. He is following up on Iraq withdrawal of all combat troops. If the quibble is between 16 months and 19 months, I think that is trivial.

WASHINGTON -- Administration officials say President Barack Obama is planning to announce that most U.S. troops will be out of Iraq in less than 19 months.

The plan would leave a interim force of between 30,000 and 50,000 to advise and train Iraqi security forces and to provide intelligence and surveillance. They would have to be out by 2011. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

The withdrawal would fall three months short of one of Obama's central campaign pledges to remove U.S. troops in 16 months.

http://www2.arkansasonline.com/news/2009 feb/24/obama-poised-announce-iraq-withd rawal-officials-sa

by louisprandtl 2009-02-24 01:18PM | 0 recs

16 months versus 19 months seems so incredibly academic.  It also requires prognostication that don't think any human possesses.

I'm sure that there are antiwar activists that settled on Obama, but I think that any beliefs on their part that he would be an antiwar president would have to have been based on projection and not his actually policy positions.

by Dreorg 2009-02-24 01:32PM | 0 recs
I'm on complete agreement with

your comment here. I don't agree with JA on his comment about Afghanistan..

by louisprandtl 2009-02-24 01:48PM | 0 recs
Re: When a "Withdrawl" is not

One reason I supported Clinton over Obama was that I thought that Obama was being unrealistic vis-a-vis Iraq. My view was and continues to be that we will not get a withdrawal from Iraq until the NY & DC foreign policy establishment sign off on it. And their condition for a sign-off is predicated on Iraq not being left in a vacuum. I believed that Clinton was the best prepared to effect this. That being said, I found Obama came to understand this over the course of the campaign. Biden, no doubt, moved him that direction. I also took solace that Obama kept Gates and chose Clinton for SoS.

Still while Iraq has made progress I don't believe that the NY & DC foreign policy establishment are ready to let it go though they should. At some point, the cost, both financial dollar amountand the opportunity cost, come into play as national security issues. The war in Afghanistan and Pakistan that looms ahead is the cost of strategic distraction, as I wrote recently. You can decide whether it is a war worth fighting or not but to win will likely require upwards of 150,000 troops and a draft not to mention tackling a $4 billion opium trade and breaking the backs of war lords whose power is likely insurmountable.

A withdrawal from Iraq asap is in the national interest even it if means leaving a fractured Iraq.

by Charles Lemos 2009-02-24 01:27PM | 0 recs
Thank you for writing your note. I completely
agree with it. It is always a pleasure (for laymen like myself) to read very knowledgeable and thoughtful folks like yourself speak or write. I didn't realize the DC-NYC FP establishment angle, I think you are right on the money there.
by louisprandtl 2009-02-24 01:38PM | 0 recs
Re: When a "Withdrawl" is not

By your framing, the US does not have enough resources to effect a high-likelihood-of-a-win plan for Afghanistan.  If one were to follow that to the logical end, one would conclude that sending more resources (but short of the resources required) would be foolish ?

by Ravi Verma 2009-02-24 01:39PM | 0 recs
What the logical end in the Afghanistan

in your book? Our defeat and return of Taliban in Afghanistan?

by louisprandtl 2009-02-24 02:27PM | 0 recs
Re: What the logical end in the Afghanistan

You are getting emotional Dr Prandtl... something that is not recommended when considering a cold policy question.

The premise is that 150k+ troops and a draft are required to win in Afghanistan.  The unstated assumption is that such resources are not available at this point.

Therefore, the only available options are (a) buy time in order to accept defeat ... to make defeat politically acceptbale (b) buy time in order to create more resources... to train more troops, to make a draft more palatable or (c) to pull out now, and admit defeat.

What is your plan here ?

by Ravi Verma 2009-02-24 02:39PM | 0 recs
Few points:

1. Please don't use Dr while referring me. My first name or last name is fine.

  1. I'm not being emotional. Your ad hominem remark is nothing but a personal attack. I'll leave it at that.
  2. This country had seen much harder time and fought off likes of Hitler. Your three options are not the only options.

Thank you for your comments.

by louisprandtl 2009-02-24 02:49PM | 0 recs
Re: What the logical end in the Afghanistan

And I should point out...

there is a 4th option as well

(d) buy time, in order to develop a political plan that makes it possible to "win" with the resources that are currently available.

by Ravi Verma 2009-02-24 02:49PM | 0 recs
Your plans!

I'll not even comment on two of your "accept defeat to Taliban and Al Qaida" plans.

The other plans seem to be concentrated on the supposition that US internal politics determined that Afghan war is unpopular or will become one, which is the not the case. Your plans depend on the supposition that US lack resources in terms of money and personnel, given the current recession. US annual Defense budget including Afghan and Iraq war spending is over 700 billion dollars. We have 1.4 million in active military (another 1.5 million in reserves). Do you think we lack resources which cannot be "smartly" re-directed at War in Afghanistan? To use Barnett's language, we can quite easily move adequate resources from leviathan war-systems and forces to fight the terrorists and insurgents in Afghanistan-Pakistan. And yes, it also includes a large scale effort to build up the civil infrastructure and society in Afghanistan and Pakistan. And smart diplomacy including major stakeholders who are neighbors of Afghanistan including Russia, Pakistan, China, Iran, Central Asian States and probably India.

If you want to know how military planners approach to 21st Century Wars please look up

Thomas P. Barnett's "A New Pentagon Map: War and Peace in the 21st Century."
http://www.amazon.com/Pentagons-New-Map- Twenty-First-Century/dp/0399151753
Thomas X. Hammes, "The Sling and the Stone: On War in the 21st Century"
http://www.amazon.com/Sling-Stone-War-21 st-Century/dp/0760324077/ref=pd_bxgy_b_t ext_c

by louisprandtl 2009-02-24 04:06PM | 0 recs
Re: Your plans!

I've read the Barnett book. Should I read the Hammes book?

by Charles Lemos 2009-02-24 04:13PM | 0 recs
That will be my recommendation:

Hammes argues that 4G warfare against translational forces (like Al Qaida) are decade long wars. Very interesting read for somebody who wants to understand how to fight asymmetrical or unconventional wars in this Century.

by louisprandtl 2009-02-24 04:40PM | 0 recs
sorry it should be transnational and not


by louisprandtl 2009-02-24 04:42PM | 0 recs

well, he's right. have you been to Africa? just about war there is a result of artificial borders. Afghanistan is a rump state. Pakistan is the anti-India but it's not clear to me that the Pashtuns, the Baluchis and the Sinds wouldn't prefer their own state.

by Charles Lemos 2009-02-24 04:54PM | 0 recs
Well just about most problems in

Middle East from I/P conflict, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan stem from artificial constructs of maps drawn by past colonial masters before they left.

by louisprandtl 2009-02-24 05:01PM | 0 recs
To answer your question. No I have not

been to Africa but would definitely do so if I get the opportunity.

by louisprandtl 2009-02-24 05:09PM | 0 recs
I do not know about this..

"we can quite easily move adequate resources from leviathan war-systems and forces to fight the terrorists and insurgents in Afghanistan-Pakistan"

We can also "quite easily" solve the climate crisis...all it would take is for each one of us to breathe half as much!

I do not place much stock in the numbers your cited (1.4M active military etc.); rather, I am thinking of the Army chiefs report that said the Army was nearly broken.

As far as I can see, you stated that there were more options, in additions to the ones I listed.  What you have described, however, is a restatement of the "buy time in order to develop the resources" option.

And indeed, if that is indeed the plan, then the actual actions are not consistent with the plan...

by Ravi Verma 2009-02-24 04:56PM | 0 recs
Re: I do not know about this..

We can also "quite easily" solve the climate crisis...all it would take is for each one of us to breathe half as much!

If you want to continue to engage in a serious dialog, or taken seriously any further, please refrain from personal attacks and childish remarks. Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit.

I do not place much stock in the numbers your cited (1.4M active military etc.); rather, I am thinking of the Army chiefs report that said the Army was nearly broken.

Your lack of knowledge is not my problem. Read up.

by louisprandtl 2009-02-24 05:06PM | 0 recs
Mr Prandtl

I have refrained from responding to your insults that have sorely tested my patience.  Indeed, I have tried to be generous to you by ascribing your reaction to an "emotional response".  Since you take pride in that, and since I have enjoyed my previous exchanges with you (and have therefore held you with a high regard), let me boil it down for you.

(a) I found your initial remark.. "what is your end game...surrender to the Taliban ?" to be deeply offensive.  Indeed, you sounded somewhat like GW Bush in his darker moments.  If you do not understand why, then it will be no use trying to explain it to you any further.

(b) I find your assertion that "this country has defeated Hitler" to be rather childish. First, it ignores the role the Soviets (and others) played.  [And based on your general knowledge of history, I do not think you are unaware of all that.]  Second...so what ?  Historical precedent is rather useless here... one could have also cited the example of Vietnam.  One could also have cited the historical difficulties all foreigners (barring Alexander and Genghis Khan) have had in Afghanistan.  

(c) Third, I am rather surprised by your blanket assertion that there are "more options" than what I listed, followed by your refusal to list any of them.  Did you think you were conducting a "serious dialogue" with that attitude ?

I directed some sarcasm at you... that was actually a mild response.

Have a good day Mr Prandtl... (and I must confess that I am rather saddened in saying all this!!)

by Ravi Verma 2009-02-25 08:59AM | 0 recs
I'm sorry too to see this came to such pass.

Instead of insulting me, if you had asked for clarifications on my initial comment, I would have been happy to have clarified or explained myself further. It was not meant to be offensive to you at all.

I'll not argu with your other statements as there's no point in increased bitterness. Thanks.

by louisprandtl 2009-02-25 04:12PM | 0 recs
argue and not 'argu'....sheesh..typing and

clicking too fast...

by louisprandtl 2009-02-25 04:13PM | 0 recs
the logical end in the Afghanistan

well the two of you must continue to write your excellent diaries. I read them consistently.

Iraq was a mistaken from the get go and I was opposed on both moral and realpolitik grounds. Powell was right with his Pottery Barn dictum. You break it, you own it. We thus own it. My own view is that Iraq like much of the colonial world tend to be artificial states. Their long-term viability is doubtful though the international system general presumes a level of stasis and operates at an equilibrium. Hussein and the Baath party held Iraq together. Once that was broken it allowed the Marsh Arabs (the Shi'ites) and the Kurds to seek their own arrangements. I tended to like the Biden plan of a tri-partite confederation though I'd really prefer outright partition even at the cost of upsetting the Turks. The major argument against partition was a geo-political one. Iraq serves as the bulwark against expanding Iranian influence. But even that presumes that ethnic loyalties run deeper than religious ones and I am not convinced that is the case. Take Bahrain for example. It has an Arab Sunni elite governing an Arab Shi'ite mass  that tends to look to Iran for protection.

To say the least, it's a mess.

On Afghanistan, I have been meaning to write a post on the role of madrassas which is really the root of the problem. The madrassas which have exploded in number in the last 20-25 years teach Wahhibism. At the start of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, there were less than 250 madrassas in the whole of South Asia. Now the number is somewhere over 10,000. The number might be twice that. These are largely funded by Saudi Arabia and the Sunni Gulf states. But it most also be recognized that it is the failure of Pakistan and Afghanistan to provide educational facilities that has allowed the madrassas to fill a vacuum. My view has been to win the war in Afghanistan requires a generational effort. The power of the Pashtun militias can not be broken without a major occupation and remember tribal loyalties run centuries deep.

When I see that in just about every Taliban attack on a populated area concentrates on destroying three things: the existing tribal leadership, the clinics and the schools it tells me that a) we are stepping into a Pashtun civil war b) the Taliban want to destroy the state in all its forms for who in their right mind wants to destroy a clinic and c) that they see schools as a threat to their worldview.

All this in my view represents a hefty burden to assume. The Afghan war in its current iteration is now its eighth year. That's longer than WW II. If we are to assume this burden, and my liberal intervention side of me says we should but my realist side of me says we shouldn't unless we commit the necessary resources to win recognizing that the definition of victory is a 20 to 25 year enterprise in state building that may end up being as effective as plowing the sea. In short, I am torn as to what to do.

by Charles Lemos 2009-02-24 03:21PM | 0 recs
Re: the logical end in the Afghanistan

Oops, I said this.

On Afghanistan, I have been meaning to write a post on the role of madrassas which is really the root of the problem.

I should have said this:

On Afghanistan, I have been meaning to write a post on the role of madrassas which is really ONE of the roots of the problem.

by Charles Lemos 2009-02-24 03:26PM | 0 recs
This is what I was driving at...

"In short, I am torn as to what to do. "

There are no good options.. all obvious ways of thinking lead to options that are very fairly unattractive.

In system engineering parlance, the situation can be described as one with a limited trade space.  When faced with this situation, one should try to "expand" the trade space (some people call it expanding the question)... often times, this happens by thinking outside the box, and questioning all previously held assumptions.

by Ravi Verma 2009-02-24 05:00PM | 0 recs
120,000 vs 60,000 troops

"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."

You think Obama is trying to conquer Afghanistan and make it into a U.S. colony?

You do know that is what the USSR was trying to do, right?

And of course they tried so hard to combine military action with diplomacy and humanitarian aid.

We are trying to decimate al Quada and the Taliban. These are legitimate national security interests. But then, I suppose achieving these is "off the table" much like Virginia was for Obama in the election.

by Davidsfr 2009-02-24 03:43PM | 0 recs
Re: 120,000 vs 60,000 troops

Wow, to equate taking VA with solving Afghanistan has to take the cake for the most delusional projection of the thread.

by Jerome Armstrong 2009-02-24 05:06PM | 0 recs
Still no admission you were wrong, huh?

My point was to point out how dreadfully wrong you have been in the past when forecasting Obama's fortunes, not to compare the two objectives.

I mean really, you must have known that, I think you just want to divert attention from your fail projections.

by Davidsfr 2009-02-24 07:38PM | 0 recs
Re: Still no admission you were wrong, huh?

Really? When, I posted a re-cap of how I nearly nailed the election, to the decimal, did you miss it?  

It's also been very easy to predict when Obama would flip-flop (funding Iraq, campaign finance funding, Offshore drilling, on and on...), and those where he won't (occupying Afghanistan, bipartisan spiel...); each time, it's like a shooting fish in a barrel, and each time, the naysayers like you show up and tell me how wrong I am... then afterwards, I get to hear about your projection of being wrong.

Repeat. Fail. Go Away.

by Jerome Armstrong 2009-02-25 04:47AM | 0 recs
Dear Jerome,

you are chronically wrong when extrapolating about public opinion

by bluedavid 2009-02-24 06:14PM | 0 recs
Re: Dear Jerome,

sure thing, just when I'm not right, usually.

by Jerome Armstrong 2009-02-25 04:43AM | 0 recs


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