Thursday, June 17, 2010

Afghanistan Tipping Point

When you lose Leslie Gelb, president emeritus of the Council of Foreign Relations, you’re losing the foreign policy establishment:

“The United States will be trapped in Afghanistan for many costly years to come. It is a good bet that President Obama will have most of the 105,000 U.S. troops expected there by the end of summer, still in that sorry country by the next presidential election, and probably even five years from now. By that time, whoever is president will face such public demands for withdrawal that the fiasco will end, finally—for Americans at least. It’s not at all clear whether President Obama fathoms this nightmare or is cynically sidestepping the issue through November 2012.”
That happened to Bush by late 2006, when the Iraq commission led by James Baker and Lee Hamilton staked out the political center by endorsing a strategy of phased withdrawal. Bush was able to stand his ground against the foreign policy establishment because, already a presidential lame duck, he didn’t have to preserve his ability to govern on other issues going forward. That option isn’t open to a president who aspires to govern for another six years.

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