President Obama is about to announce that he will send 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan. One question he will have to answer is why 30,000 when General McChyrstal had asked for 40,000.
The concern is, that like in every decision he has made during his 13 years as an elected official, Obama has made a decision based on politics. If the 30,000 proves not to be enough, he will, as he has before, made a bad situation worse.
The case for sending troops is clear and it was made here.There is a clear cut enemy who is the Taliban and hopefully Obama will be able to articulate a stated goal of destroying them.
That the Taliban would do as much damage as possible to the United States or contribute to it given the means and the opportunity is beyond question. And if they regained control of Afghanistan that is exactly what they would try and do.
Obama, who so far has shown, as he did with the health care debate that he couldn’t sell an Eskimo a hand warmer, can sell the need for sending the troops by stating the obvious and making these goals clear. He can also point out forcefully that the need to send more troops is because of one more massive screw up by George W. Bush and Republicans who diverted troops from Afghanistan where the real enemy was to send them to Iraq. The Taliban had been defeated, but it was Bush’s decision to divert the troops that allowed them to make a comeback.And this is just one more George Bush and Republican mess that has to be cleaned up.
Other issues Obama will have to deal with is paying for the war but again this should be laid right at the doorstep of Bush and the Republicans who not only refused to pay for Bush’s folly in Iraq, but cut taxes at the same time. Not once, three times. And they did it using budget reconciliation to bypass a Democratic filibuster. As the senate begins debate on healthcare reform and the threat of using budget reconciliation to pass the bill becomes more probable, it would help for Obama to mention that too.
Sending more troops to Afghanistan should not be a hard sell. But the fact that Obama is going to West Point to make his speech shows that he has more dog and pony show in him than substance. Going to West Point is all about politics and show and tell and nothing else.
It;’s not the first time Obama has looked for backdrops as theatrics to give a speech more substance. . He criss crossed the country for town hall meetings and speeches on the health care debate. And he shelled out $4 million to give his presidential nomination acceptance speech in a football stadium when the convention center would have done just as well.
In many ways it continues the idea that Obama is the Democratic George W. Bush in that like Bush, he is simply unprepared to be Presdient and is trying to compensate by using dramatic backdrops. In fact going to West Point seems eerily similar to Bush’s unnecessary trip to an aircraft carrier to announce “mission accomplished”. And if this doesn’t turn out any better than that, and if politics is behind Obama’s decision to send 30,000 troops instead of the 40,000 McChrystal asked for, Obama will probably not even run for a second term.
But the decision to go to West Point also shows Obama himself is unsure of his decision and was looking for a a dramatic backdrop to give it credibility. The problem is, if the Oval office isnt good enough (and apparently it isnt) the guy, and maybe the country, is in real trouble.