Obama has known for more than 12 months that he was going to become CIC, with responsibility for Afghanistan. This means 12 months of presidential advisers able to give this neophyte help in figuring out the best strategy for the war that he declared, during the campaign, was the essential, central battlefield in the war against those pesky insurgents. He’s also had two (or is it three?) months of specific recommendations from the general in charge of the Afghanistan operations.
And yet Obama has done absolutely nothing. He’s floated myriad and contradictory trial balloons: No troops was his first balloon, a strategy that played out when he played hide-and-seek with General McChrystal. This balloon got shot down by ordinary Americans horrified that their sons and daughters are in a turkey shoot. His next attempt at gauging public opinion was to say that he’d send some troops. This balloon also bit the dust when savvy political and military observers pointed out that, under the circumstances on the ground in Afghanistan, half a loaf would not be better than none. He then tried a completely different approach, announcing that he’d send lots of troops, albeit on a weirdly attenuated and pointless timeline. Even the attenuated timeline, though, wasn’t sufficient to assuage his Lefter flank, and Obama quickly drew back on that idea too.
And since we know that Obama has no fixed principles, except for the desperate desire to receive universal accolades and to socialize the American economy, there are no internal impulses moving him in any direction on Afghanistan. With his trial balloons grounded, he’s inert.
Or at least that’s what I thought. The AP explains to me that 12 months of inertia, interrupted only by sending up abortive trial balloons, avoiding generals, and having endless meetings, is actually a sign of Obama’s incredible foreign policy expertise:
President Barack Obama’s drawn-out decision-making on Afghanistan is sending messages. To the Afghan government: Clean up your act. To the Pentagon: I’m no rubber stamp. To the American public: More troops can’t be the sole answer.
Obama has been accused by some Republicans of “dithering” about whether to send more troops and deepen U.S. involvement in an increasingly unpopular war.
The slow process also has left him open to critics who recall his pronouncement in March, after developing what he called a “stronger, smarter and comprehensive” Afghan war strategy, that the situation there was “increasingly perilous.” He ordered more troops to battle then, with little discernible result so far.
This time, he’s making it clear he won’t be rushed. Or pushed. And the way the messages he’s sending play out could help determine whether the war effort is sustainable in the long run.
Thank God for the AP. Without their guidance, I never would have understood how subtle our President is. Obama’s not ineffectual. He’s engaging in a thrilling, practically telepathic, negotiation with just about everyone, simply by sitting still.
I’m sure that the troops currently serving in Afghanistan in unprotected positions as a resurgent Taliban contemplates the wonders of an apparently dormant president, are also delighted to learn that this is really all part of a grand plan intended to send marvelously nuanced messages to all sorts of people across the globe and right into the heart of the theater of war.
I’ll leave you with this Carole Burnett spoof of Brief Encounter, because it reminds us that Obama’s gone one better than these funny one-word lovers by doing away with words entirely:
UPDATE: Unsurprisingly, Big Lizards has a better post about the flight from reality than anything I could do, with his focus, not on the media, but on Obama himself.
UPDATE II: At American Digest, an excellent post suggesting that the media doesn’t need to spin so madly to cover up for Obama, since Obama really wants to do what he’s doing, and the resulting anarchy is a desired goal.