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View Full Version : Big Afghanistan strategy article in the NYT


claymisher
12-05-2009, 05:17 PM
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/06/world/asia/06reconstruct.html?_r=1&hp=&pagewanted=print

Highlights:

The economic cost was troubling him as well after he received a private budget memo estimating that an expanded presence would cost $1 trillion over 10 years, roughly the same as his health care plan.

Now as his top military adviser ran through a slide show of options, Mr. Obama expressed frustration. He held up a chart showing how reinforcements would flow into Afghanistan over 18 months and eventually begin to pull out, a bell curve that meant American forces would be there for years to come.

“I want this pushed to the left,” he told advisers, pointing to the bell curve. In other words, the troops should be in sooner, then out sooner.



Moreover, Mr. Obama had read “Lessons in Disaster,” Gordon M. Goldstein’s book on the Vietnam War. The book had become a must read in the West Wing after Mr. Emanuel had dinner over the summer at the house of another deputy national security adviser, Thomas E. Donilon, and wandered into his library to ask what he should be reading.

Among the conclusions that Mr. Donilon and the White House team drew from the book was that both President John F. Kennedy and President Lyndon B. Johnson failed to question the underlying assumption about monolithic Communism and the domino theory — clearly driving the Obama advisers to rethink the nature of Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

Mr. Gates and others talked about the limits of the American ability to actually defeat the Taliban; they were an indigenous force in Afghan society, part of the political fabric. This was a view shared by others around the table, including Leon E. Panetta, the director of the C.I.A., who argued that the Taliban could not be defeated as such and so the goal should be to drive wedges between those who could be reconciled with the Afghan government and those who could not be.


Mr. Obama was leery. He had received a memo the day before from the Office of Management and Budget projecting that General McChrystal’s full 40,000-troop request on top of the existing deployment and reconstruction efforts would cost $1 trillion from 2010 to 2020, an adviser said. The president seemed in sticker shock, watching his domestic agenda vanishing in front of him. “This is a 10-year, trillion-dollar effort and does not match up with our interests,” he said.


You can't always trust these behind the scenes stories. Take it all with a grain of salt.

Francoamerican
12-05-2009, 05:32 PM
You can't always trust these behind the scenes stories. Take it all with a grain of salt.

Grain of salt? If true, the above excepts boggle the mind. Liberals have every reason to despair of Obama. He has caved in to the Rabid Right.

There must be a better explanation.

Wonderment
12-05-2009, 10:20 PM
NYT and WP both ran very suspiciously similar stories today, both claiming to describe the inside process and Obama's thinking on the Afghan escalation. Surely the same Team Obama members are playing both newspapers by feeding them the same self-serving bullshit.

Alas, the liberal media will never fall out of love with Obama because -- especially in contrast to his predecessor -- he is the quintessentially intellectual president.

They will especially want to cuddle him when he agonizes and waxes eloquent over his war decisions. So Lincolnesque. So nuanced. So like ourselves.

Of course, it's comforting to feel that the president is not an imbecile who's incapable of understanding the issues and who is easily manipulated by secretive and nefarious clowns and loons like Cheney and Rumsfeld. But if at the end of the day he makes the same kind of decision the Bushies would -- as he has with AfPak -- it's doubly disappointing.

bjkeefe
12-06-2009, 02:15 AM
NYT and WP both ran very suspiciously similar stories today, both claiming to describe the inside process and Obama's thinking on the Afghan escalation. Surely the same Team Obama members are playing both newspapers by feeding them the same self-serving bullshit.

Minor point: I don't know about that. It has long been a truism in White House media management that the way to get one of those papers not to cover a story was to feed to the other.

Also, this ...

This account of how the president reached his decision is based on dozens of interviews with participants as well as a review of notes some of them took during Mr. Obama’s 10 meetings with his national security team. Most of those interviewed spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, but their accounts have been matched against those of other participants wherever possible.

... does not exactly sound like a story being "fed."

Alas, the liberal media will never fall out of love with Obama because -- especially in contrast to his predecessor -- he is the quintessentially intellectual president.

They will especially want to cuddle him when he agonizes and waxes eloquent over his war decisions. So Lincolnesque. So nuanced. So like ourselves.

Of course, it's comforting to feel that the president is not an imbecile who's incapable of understanding the issues and who is easily manipulated by secretive and nefarious clowns and loons like Cheney and Rumsfeld. But if at the end of the day he makes the same kind of decision the Bushies would -- as he has with AfPak -- it's doubly disappointing.

At some point, you have to question your own assumptions, it seems to me. You've got an extremely rigid stance -- that military action must always be wrong -- and you're operating without information that Obama doubtless has about the situation. While I will grant that there are forces at work that are coloring Obama's decision making (the clout of the military-industrial complex, the perennial Democratic worry about appearing "soft"), I also believe that Obama would like nothing finer than to be done with these overseas quagmires so that he can concentrate on his domestic agenda. Therefore, I conclude that he has been convinced that doing nothing/withdrawing immediately is not a responsible option, and I think that rather than leaping to the trite "just like Bush!!!1!" slogan, you ought to at least consider that.

Wonderment
12-06-2009, 04:22 AM
At some point, you have to question your own assumptions, it seems to me.

Doesn't everyone?

You've got an extremely rigid stance -- that military action must always be wrong....

Maybe. But not really relevant to my opposition to the escalation. I don't buy Obama's arguments for the surge. My view is shared by lots of people -- including members of Congress and the military -- who are not opposed to all military action.


... and you're operating without information that Obama doubtless has about the situation.

Every president now routinely plays the "secret stuff I can't tell you" card. I'm surprised that after listening to Bush/Cheney ramble on for 8 years about Big Secret Threats to Us, you're reverting to this argument.

While I will grant that there are forces at work that are coloring Obama's decision making (the clout of the military-industrial complex, the perennial Democratic worry about appearing "soft"), I also believe that Obama would like nothing finer than to be done with these overseas quagmires so that he can concentrate on his domestic agenda.

I believe that too. It's not inconsistent with my criticisms of Obama. (I will concede that Bush and Cheney were more enthusiastic about war than Obama.) But Lyndon Johnson also would have preferred to pursue his domestic agenda. Presumably Nixon too. So?

I conclude that he has been convinced that doing nothing/withdrawing immediately is not a responsible option, and I think that rather than leaping to the trite "just like Bush!!!1!" slogan, you ought to at least consider that.

I also agree with you that believes his actions are responsible.

I don't think Obama is "just like Bush." In fact, my previous post was focused on distinguishing between them (Bush: dumb, impulsive, inarticulate, easily manipulated; Obama: smart, deliberative, eloquent and difficult to bamboozle).

Francoamerican
12-06-2009, 05:43 AM
NYT and WP both ran very suspiciously similar stories today, both claiming to describe the inside process and Obama's thinking on the Afghan escalation. Surely the same Team Obama members are playing both newspapers by feeding them the same self-serving bullshit.

Alas, the liberal media will never fall out of love with Obama because -- especially in contrast to his predecessor -- he is the quintessentially intellectual president.

They will especially want to cuddle him when he agonizes and waxes eloquent over his war decisions. So Lincolnesque. So nuanced. So like ourselves.

Of course, it's comforting to feel that the president is not an imbecile who's incapable of understanding the issues and who is easily manipulated by secretive and nefarious clowns and loons like Cheney and Rumsfeld. But if at the end of the day he makes the same kind of decision the Bushies would -- as he has with AfPak -- it's doubly disappointing.

Exactly right. Self-serving bullshit whose only purpose is to keep liberals on his side. The NYT and the WP are read mainly by the kind of people who voted for Obama. They will be pleased to hear that their idol came to his decision only after weighing all the reasons for NOT increasing American (and NATO) military involvement in Afghanistan. Will they be quite so pleased in a year or so when it becomes clear that those were the reasons that should have prevailed?

In Europe last week to persuade NATO to contribute more to the war effort Hilary Clinton said that the US was becoming weary of shouldering all the responsibility for Afghanistan. Unfortunately for the US, most Europeans have already concluded that Obama isn't serious.