Monday, March 7, 2011

How Much Longer Does Obama Have on Afghanistan?

When Obama ordered an Afghanistan troop surge in late 2009, he reassured his base that his commitment to prosecuting the war wasn't open-ended, and that a serious troop withdrawal would commence by July 2011.  We’re now hearing noises from the administration about staying the course until 2014.

Here’s a Rasmussen poll suggesting that the public at large doesn't have that much patience:
“A majority of voters, for the first time, support an immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Afghanistan or the creation of a timetable to bring them all home within a year. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 31% of Likely U.S. Voters now say all troops should be brought home from Afghanistan immediately, while another 21% say a firm timetable should be established to bring all troops home within a year’s time. The combined total of 52% who want the troops home within a year is a nine-point jump from 43% last September. Just 37% felt that way in September 2009.”
Granted, the budget deficit and Republican's zeal to defund ObamaCare might still be sucking all the political air out of Washington between now and November, 2012.   And unless there’s something in the water supply that makes them nominate Ron Paul, the Republicans aren’t going to be making an issue of ending the Afghanistan war in 2012. But they might start complaining about Obama's flawed military strategy, especially if General Petraeus is no longer around to lend it his prestige.  And an anti-war rebellion in Obama’s base certainly isn’t out of the question, especially if people like Nancy Pelosi and Sherrod Brown start complaining publicly about a quagmire.

It wouldn't take a serious anti-war primary challenge to leave Obama in a political position a little like Lyndon Johnson’s in 1968.  That’s not a great place for a sitting Democratic president to be.


Henry said...

That's a good question because it pits two articles of my liberal faith against each other: (1) that Bush took his eye off the ball by diverting resources toward Iraq and away from the war that we couldn't afford to lose; and (2) that a war that might go on interminably and exact a substantial cost in blood and treasure is never the answer. The fact that both propositions can't be true (which btw is no defense of Bush) should provoke some serious soul-searching on the part of us liberals. If it doesn't, that'll show that our attachment to proposition (1) was just political opportunism all along.

Anonymous said...

A serious anti-war primary challenge is not out of the question. I think there is going to be a serious primary challenge not just because of Afghanistan, but also myriad other issues. Obama is not leading and some Democrats must be worried that if they don't get a better candidate for 2012, they can pass the baton back to the Republicans.