“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.