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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
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”