No Exit Strategy in Obama’s Speech, but Plenty of Escalation

Posted: December 2, 2009 in Uncategorized
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The press is getting it wrong regarding the president’s announcement of the newest of his escalations in Afghanistan, which said:

I have determined that it is in our vital national interest to send an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan. After 18 months, our troops will begin to come home…Just as we have done in Iraq, we will execute this transition responsibly, taking into account conditions on the ground.

The headline for The New York Times’ article on the speech reads “Obama Adds Troops, but Maps Exit Plan.”

Keep in mind, this president told you back in March 2009, after he decided to send the first big troop increase to Afghanistan, that:

We now have resourced, properly, this strategy. It’s not going to be an open-ended commitment of infinite resources…Just because we needed to ramp up from the greatly under-resourced levels that we had, doesn’t automatically mean that if this strategy doesn’t work that what’s needed is even more troops.

The way out of Afghanistan for the U.S. begins by refusing to add more troops. Despite any number of headlines to the contrary, this is not an exit strategy nor a withdrawal timeline. It is, at best, an intention, and one which is undermined by adding 30,000 troops. Here’s Defense Secretary Robert Gates in a hearing today:

After several back-and-forth exchanges, Gates concedes that there will be a “thorough review” in December 2010 and that if the strategy is not working, “we will take a long look” at the July 2011 date. This seems an important concession, and McCain declares that is this is the case.

…Graham then bores in hard on the July, 2011 date. He asks if the president has locked himself into that date, and Gates and Mullen try hard to say that as commander in chief, Obama obviously retains all options to change his mind. But, Gates argues, the date Obama offered Tuesday night as the starting point for withdrawing troops is a “clear statement of strong intent.”

Gates only got to this point in the hearing after getting kicked around like a soccer ball between senators who got him to first say the withdrawal starting in 2011 would not be tied to conditions on the ground, and then got him to retract and revise that statement.

This is also, by the way, the same Defense Secretary who said he’d be “very skeptical of any additional force levels” back in January 2009.

If the president has an exit strategy, he didn’t tell you about it last night. He painted a picture of intentions after telling you he was sending 30,000 more troops to kill and die in Afghanistan. And you know what they say about the road to Hell.

Note: Derrick Crowe is the Afghanistan blog fellow for Brave New Foundation / The Seminal. Say no to escalation in Afghanistan by signing our CREDO petition at http://act.credoaction.com/campaign/saynotoescalation/. For each signature, CREDO will donate a dollar to support Crowe’s work. You can also join Brave New Foundation’s #NoWar candlelight vigil on Facebook and Twitter to show your opposition to the war. But make these your first steps as an activist to end this war, not your last.

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Comments
  1. Sporkmaster says:

    But with any military action time lines are a very sensitive subject. Give too much information and the enemy what they need for a preempted attack. But if you do not give a specific time to the American public you have people demanding for more information with the accusation of grandstanding.

    But to me there is a difference between a ‘exit’ strategy and a defeatist one. The first one is making sure that certain things are done so you do no have to deal with it again. A defeatist one is how quickly we can leave leaving the area to wave in the four winds. I have had two people make the comments about wanting to see helicopters on the roofs in Afghanistan. I get angry at this because they seem to forget what happened with the massive murders that followed. Because it seems like when people talk of a exit strategy they are really looking for a reason that the people in Afghanistan “exit” from their daily lives. Out of sight and out of mind.

    Also we really need to double team haram over finding what things he and his group need over there. I much as his videos try to send a postive message, i would rather send things that are helpful now.

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