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“Obama’s decision is complicated by a deepening domestic political divide and no guarantee of success whichever option he chooses,” the Washington Post wrote today in a story about Afghanistan. “One observer, characterizing the president’s dilemma at its most extreme, said: ‘He can send more troops and it will be a disaster and he will destroy the Democratic Party. Or he can send no more troops and it will be a disaster and the Republicans will say he lost the war’.”
That political scenario is accurate, but Obama is to blame for the fix he’s in. Yes, Afghanistan has blown up and it’s probably going to get a lot worse. But the reason he’s going to get the blame is that during the campaign he criticized the Bush administration’s approach in broad terms but never really proposed a way to seriously shift ground, because that would have been politically risky. That’s pretty much identical to the situation in Iraq and the war there.
The Bush administration set up for failure the next president, even if it had been John McCain, by keeping the lid on the situation in Afghanistan and Iraq through last fall’s election. But Obama played it safe during the campaign and now he’s in charge, with a Democratic congress. It’s not unfair that he gets the blame, or credit, for what happens next.
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
Acres of hemp grown by “patriotic‚” U.S. farmers in 1942 at the behest of the U.S. government:
A study suggested that the health effects of exposure to nuclear radiation at Chernobyl were no worse than ill health resulting from smoking and normal urban air pollution.
Greenpeace apologized after activists accidentally defaced the site of Peru’s 2,000-year-old Nazca Lines when they unfurled cloth letters reading “time for change” near the ancient sand drawings. “We fully understand,” the group wrote in a statement, “that this looks bad.”
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“I hope that after reading the following pages the leaders of the Y. M. C. A. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.”