Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Afghan Troop Decision Tuesday, Giving Thanks

Obama to Announce Afghan Strategy Next Tuesday
Numerous news sources have confirmed that President Obama will announce his long-awaited decision around troop levels and war strategy in Afghanistan next Tuesday. Reportedly, this will consist of a 34,000 troop increase (in addition to the 68,000 or so troops already in Afghanistan, up from 45,000 or so at the start of his Presidency) along with a request to NATO for an additional 6,000 troops to fully provide the 40,000 troops that were requested by Gen. Stanley McChrystal several months ago. In total, if these reports are true, the President will have more than doubled our troop presence in Afghanistan since the start of his Presidency. This is very consistent with his campaign rhetoric about this being a "war of necessity" and that Iraq took our eyes off the ball in Afghanistan, but is also sure to infuriate the left wing in his own party, who have been calling for an accelerated withdrawal from the long conflict.

This decision, if true, continues a pattern that I first noted several months ago -- that President Obama has shown himself to be more liberal on domestic issues than many anticipated (see the stimulus plan, cap and trade and health care) but more conservative on foreign policy issues (this decision, the decision not to join the NATO alliance on banning the use of land mines, the far slower draw down in Iraq than many had hoped for or anticipated.) In both cases, he is being pretty consistent with the platform that he ran on.

I've said before on balance that I believe that we continue to have an important role in Afghanistan, but that a clear objective and exit strategy are necessary with any troop escalation. Let's hope the Commander-in-Chief articulates these things with his announcement on Tuesday.

Giving Thanks

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and as I always do in this space, I'd like to note things that are worthy of Americans giving thanks for:
I'm thankful that America is still a wealthy enough nation that we can fly to see our relatives and that if we can't afford to fly that we can drive or take the train.
I'm thankful that there are still a few moderates left in American politics, in spite of the partisan divide.
While I find references to President Obama (or ex-President Bush) as Nazis in poor taste, I'm thankful that we live in a country where people have the freedom to protest in ways that I find distasteful.
I'm thankful to have a job in an economy that has 10.2% unemployment and I'm thankful that we live in a country that has a safety net if I don't have one in the future.
I'm thankful that over the past 30 years, we as a nation have increasingly embraced rather than shunned our diversity. All respect to Attorney General Eric Holder, but we are not the cowards that we once were.
I'm thankful that you are reading these words today and that you may find something that I have to say interesting, enlightening or provocative.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. May you find love and hapiness in however you celebrate it. And a special thank you to those who do not get tomorrow off -- the police officers, fire fighters, grocery store clerks, soliders and air traffic controllers who will be working on Thanksgiving, each contributing to our uniquely American way of life.

On A Personal Note

The hard drive on my computer has failed. Like a fool, I had several pieces of data, including some of my Presidential approval history that I did not have recently backed up. I will attempt to recreate those data, but there may be a delay in the ordinary weekly posting of the President's numbers. I will get this rectified as soon as possible.

Thanks for reading. Enjoy Thanksgiving wherever you are and whatever you are doing.

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