Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

D-Day, Afghanistan

No matter what the President announces tomorrow on Drawdown Day, nobody will be happy with his decision, especially if, in Obama tradition, it is a measured move. That will neither satisfy the growing bipartisan desire to get out completely or the McCainiacs who see every Middle East conflict as an outpost for defending American liberty.

Yet...

How do we keep fighting in a country where an ambassador, as ours did last week, has to tell the president, “When Americans, who are serving in your country at great cost--in terms of life and treasure--hear themselves compared with occupiers, told that they are only here to advance their own interest, and likened to the brutal enemies of the Afghan people, they are filled with confusion and grow weary of our effort here?”

How do we keep fighting when the U.S. Conference of Mayors urges Congress to quickly end the wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq and spend the money--$112 billion this year in Afghanistan--on jobs at home?

How do we keep fighting a war, about which Gen. Petraeus told Bob Woodward, “I don't think you win this war. I think you keep fighting...This is the kind of fight we're in for the rest of our lives and probably our kids' lives?"

A year and a half ago, in sending more troops, the President said, "If I did not think that the security of the United States and the safety of the American people were at stake in Afghanistan, I would gladly order every single one of our troops home tomorrow."

When he tells us what he is going to do now, will he be guided by that same thought?

Update: As the President prepares to announce his decision, a new kind of GOP opponent enters the race, Jon M. Huntsman, a former governor of Utah, who served as his ambassador to China.

“He and I have a difference of opinion on how to help the country we both love,” Mr. Huntsman says. “But the question each of us wants the voters to answer is who will be the better President, not who’s the better American.”

Whatever happens in Afghanistan, that kind of discourse would be a welcome relief on the campaign trail.

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