Thursday, February 5, 2009

Will the Democratic "base" turn against "Obama's war in Afghanistan"

A.N.S.W.E.R radicals already marching against Obama's war

Throughout his successful campaign last year, even as he staunchly maintained his opposition to the Iraq war, President Obama said repeatedly that he would double down on the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan, a fight that he and most other Democrats said was important to win.

Even before his Inauguration, Obama sent Vice President-elect Biden to Kabul, where he met with Hamid Karzai, General David McKiernan and other top commanders and U.S., NATO and U.N. officials. His message: help is on the way, both in terms of U.S. troop reinforcements in the coming months and long-term American support. Back home, Biden reported to Obama that “things are going to get tougher before they’re going to get better." And he warned that casualties, already sharply rising, would increase more.

So Obama meant what he said. While there may be significant changes coming soon in U.S. strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the war goes on, and as Biden said, is going to get worse.

Where does the American Left and, more importantly, the liberal wing of the Democratic Party -- the "base" as it's come to be called -- stand on the Afghan war, and will that base continue to back the President it helped to elect.

Of course, the radicals are already on Obama's case. The old-time communist/anarchist bunch at the A.N.S.W.E.R Coalition are organizing a March 21st "March on the Pentagon" under the slogan, "“Bring All the Troops Home Now Not Later!” Meanwhile the ladies over at Code Pink, are somewhat more restrained but are still slamming Obama for having "authorized unmanned drone attacks in Pakistan [i.e., CIA Predator strikes on al Qaeda hideouts], in direct contravention of international law, and an attack in Afghanistan that resulted in the deaths of many civilians. " And in January, leading up to Inauguration Day, an assemblage of various left-leaning "bloggers, writers and activists" launched "Get Afghanistan Right Week," with its own website, which they proclaimed "the start of an ongoing campaign to oppose military escalation in Afghanistan."

All that is pretty routine stuff, to be sure, but it could get dicier if some hearty band of crusaders starts disrupting Obama speeches or throwing fake blood on the White House lawn.

Moving up the food chain of prospective anti-warriors, the legions of the so-called "netroots" are likely to wield some influence, as well as attract attention. Already, some regular Daily Kos contributors are speaking truth to Obama power, like this one, who who is down with the "Get Afghanistan Right" program, as is this blogger on Firedoglake. If you scroll through recent reader comments on many of the netroots sites, since Obama took ownership of the Afghan war, the attacks on U.S. policies in Afghanistan have been every bit as scathing and ill-tempered as those targeting the Iraq war, although for the moment, commenters tend to blast Robert Gates, the generals and the CIA, while saying a hopeful thing or two about Obama coming around to their view. But then, it's still only the third week of his Presidency.

The most ominous sign of growing opposition to the Afghan war is coming from those in the media who typically reflect - and often influence - opinion among more mainstream liberal Democratic politicians and constituencies. The current Newsweek (which has taken to downsizing itself more or less into a liberal journal of opinion) has an exceedingly long article headlined provocatively, "Obama's Vietnam." Yes, that's without a question mark at the end. To be fair, the authors plumb the difficult issues in Afghanistan deeply and pay attention to U.S. interests, military views, and possible good, or not-so-bad, outcomes. Still, they make frequent use of terms like "quagmire," and thrust of the piece is accurately signaled by its title and the subtitle, "The analogy [to Vietnam] isn't exact. But the war in Afghanistan is starting to look disturbingly familiar."

New York Times columnist Bob Herbert went a big step further a few weeks ago in a column called, “The Afghan Quagmire.” Herbert told Obama that "the time to go all out in Afghanistan" was right after 9/11 and "that time has passed." In what surely is an insult to the new President's ability to make critical decisions clearly and responsibly, Herbert warned that Obama should steer clear of the temptation to make up for his lack of military service and "reputation as a liberal" by feeling that "he has to demonstrate his toughness, and that Afghanistan is the place to do it."

Herbert preached to Obama about the unworthiness of the Karzai government )"a fetid hothouse of corruption, a government of gangsters and weasels"). He concluded by declaring that if Obama does send more troops to Afghanistan, he'd better be prepared to defend himself: "He will owe that to the public because he will own the conflict at that point. It will be Barack Obama’s war."

President Obama shows every sign of accepting it as "his war" and prosecuting it effectively to advance American interests, protect allies, destroy al Qaeda, and help establish peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region. That's a tough job -- one that may be get tougher, as Biden indicated. The President will need strong support from the American people and both parties. It would be unfortunate if his efforts were undermined by a segment of his own party for whom the default position on virtually all uses of U.S. military power is to oppose it.

What do you think? Post a comment.

1 comment:

  1. Obama will properly deal with Afghanistan.


    Obama is a racial-minority individual and does not like racism:

    I know it may be hard to believe.

    However, it is absolutely true that Ronald Wilson Reagan committed horrible, racist, hate crimes during his presidency.

    A lot of people know about Reagan’s infamy.

    And a lot of people will know about Reagan’s infamy—even until the end of human existence: they’ll find out.

    Numbers 32:23: “Be sure your sins will find you out.”

    Respectfully Submitted by Andrew Yu-Jen Wang, J.D. Candidate
    B.S., With the Highest Level of Academic Honors at Graduation, 1996
    Messiah College, Grantham, PA
    Lower Merion High School, Ardmore, PA, 1993

    (I can type 90 words per minute, and there are thousands of copies on the Internet indicating the content of this post. And there are thousands of copies in very many countries around the world.)
    ‘If only there could be a BAN against invention that bottled up memories like scent so they never faded & they never got stale.’ (Once again, please consider an illustrative analogy: like scent that is held in or restrained or inhibited or suppressed or bottled up.) It came from my Lower Merion High School yearbook.