Obama hasn't ramped up the war in Afghanistan based on a careful calculation of America's strategic objectives. He did it because he was trapped by his own rhetorical game of bashing the Iraq war while pretending to be a hawk on Afghanistan.Meanwhile, E.J. Dionne, of all people, defended Steele:
At this point, Afghanistan is every bit as much Obama's war as Vietnam was Lyndon Johnson's war. True, President Kennedy was the first to send troops to Vietnam. We had 16,000 troops in Vietnam when JFK was assassinated. Within four years, LBJ had sent 400,000 troops there.
In the entire seven-year course of the Afghanistan war under Bush, from October 2001 to January 2009, 625 American soldiers were killed. In 18 short months, Obama has nearly doubled that number to 1,124 Americans killed.
Republicans used to think seriously about deploying the military. President Eisenhower sent aid to South Vietnam, but said he could not "conceive of a greater tragedy" for America than getting heavily involved there.
As Michael Steele correctly noted, every great power that's tried to stage an all-out war in Afghanistan has gotten its a-- handed to it. Everyone knows it's not worth the trouble and resources to take a nation of rocks and brigands.
Personally, I'm still hoping Obama's strategy in Afghanistan will work. But it is maddening that Congress can appropriate $33 billion more for Afghanistan without anyone asking where the funds will come from even as self-styled deficit hawks insist on blocking money for the unemployed unless it is offset by budget cuts.Our Dominican pastor downtown, who rarely if ever talks about politics, mentioned that the U.S. spends more on its military than all other countries in the world combined. "That's a 'kingdom of this world'," he said. Some want us to be more republic, less empire.
And McGovern is right that the most disturbing line in the Rolling Stone article that got Gen. Stanley McChrystal in trouble was this observation attributed to one of his senior advisers: "If Americans pulled back and started paying attention to this war, it would become even less popular."