Patterico's Pontifications

12/2/2009

But Don’t Tell Him He’s Signaling Weakness!

Filed under: Obama — Patterico @ 6:20 pm



After Robert Gates and Lindsey Graham suggested that Obama’s July 2011 date for withdrawal of Afghanistan troops was not set in stone, reporter Chip Reid decided to follow up and make sure:

It was a point of contention at the White House briefing today – I asked White House spokesman Robert Gibbs if senators were incorrect calling the date a “target.”

After the briefing, Gibbs went to the president for clarification. Gibbs then called me to his office to relate what the president said. The president told him it IS locked in – there is no flexibility. Troops WILL start coming home in July 2011. Period. It’s etched in stone. Gibbs said he even had the chisel.

I hope the Taliban is listening. If they can just hold on for a couple more years, the country is theirs.

45 Responses to “But Don’t Tell Him He’s Signaling Weakness!”

  1. What an incompetent. He just told the Taliban to take a vacation and the country will be theirs later.

    Twit.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  2. Then again, when has Obama done anything he said he was going to do?

    TheAudacity (2fd5ad)

  3. Another thing to add: let it also be etched in stone that not only is Obama not too intellectual, he isn’t intellectual at all, and he is by far not the smartest president we have ever had, but perhaps the most naive and clueless.

    TheAudacity (2fd5ad)

  4. He does not need to signal weakness. It is obvious. No matter what he says, nobody will ever see him as strong.

    nk (df76d4)

  5. The little president man is using Afghanistan as a prop for 2012. Simple as that.

    Those are real people he’s using.

    happyfeet (0003d3)

  6. If hostilities decrease in the next 18 months, as I suspect they will, Obama will have the added benefit of being able to claim his plan protected the troops.

    Thus, while they won’t accomplish much, they are less likely to get hurt doing it. It’s the Democratic way.

    DRJ (dee47d)

  7. This is unbelievably disheartening and defeating, as well as making it quite clear that victory is not our president’s goal. While Obama attempts to walk the fence in this and appease, in essence what he has also done is ruthlessly condemn the poor locals and allies who will be left behind when we leave, to face the wrath and hatred of the Taliban and Al Quada for having attempted to stand against them. God help them.

    Dana (e9ba20)

  8. I’m holding on to a faint hope that this is all a misdirection movement designed to confuse the enemy. Who’s with me on this?

    (crickets chirping)

    Dmac (a964d5)

  9. Dmac, at least that would be a clearer objective than what we’ve been given from the president, so I can get behind it.

    Dana (e9ba20)

  10. The Taliban will not wait. They will attack and attack because, no matter what the real truth is, the appearance will be of us running away from the Taliban.

    As I’ve said before here, I think we should get out but this is the worst of all possible worlds. We will lose the lives of far better men than Obama to make his photo op.

    MIke K (2cf494)

  11. Isn’t it obvious what Obama hopes to achieve by setting a firm pullout date?

    He is signalling to the Taliban that they need to lie low, stop their attacks, and give him the political cover to pull out. Then the country is theirs.

    Molon Labe (640aad)

  12. I agree, Molon Labe.

    DRJ (dee47d)

  13. Don’t know if anyone else here saw the PBS Newshour this evening. It was quite interesting. They had extended coverage on Afghanistan including a Jim Lehrer interview with Sec. Gates, a video roundtable with 4 editorial board members of major regional newspapers, and some average man/woman on the street interviews.

    Short version: Nobody, NOBODY, is happy. Those who want troops there and victory are honked off about the small size of the force and REALLY honked off about the “end date” for withdrawl. Many of these people say we should just leave now if we’re only going go in half-assed. Others said it was high time to cease pretending “we” are at war– when it appears that only military families are paying the price and making the sacrifices while those making the decisions are playing political games.

    Then, there were those on the left who were absolutely crazed and stunned and said that Obama disappointed them completely by continuing the war against the will of the American people. Some others praised and appreciated the lengthy and highly intellectual “deliberation” by their exhalted leader but disagreed totally with his conclusion(????). Several also thought Obama was just sucking up to the Republicans which they see as a kind of dumb thing to do since HE won the election.

    On all sides of the issue, though, there was talk about his Afghanistan decision pointing toward Obama as a one termer. I don’t have time right now to go find a linky but the PBS 12/2 program is well worth looking at for anyone who wants to see a snapshot of America on the day after Obama’s West Point speech.

    elissa (eaa327)

  14. Couldn’t we just give Cook County, Il to the Taliban instead. They might actually do some good there.

    Brooks (5bcf3a)

  15. However, the fourth smartest man in the world — after the President, Al Gore and Hillary Clinton — said that it would be great if the Taliban floated off into the nether regions of Pakistan to wait for NATO forces to leave Afghanistan.

    Because, that would give us a chance to train Afghan forces to stop them when they return.

    And, for that Joe Biden, as a real man of politics, I salute you.

    Ag80 (3d1543)

  16. Just remember that in the summer of 2007 Obama said he did not care if Iraq descended into genocide if we pulled our troops out. I think he has similar feelings about Afghanistan.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  17. Since it is Congress that can declare war, could a Repub Congress in 2011 declare war whether Obama liked it or not, then if he did not prosecute the war in an acceptible manner, be impeached?

    MD in Philly (227f9c)

  18. Maybe we should invite the Taliban and Al-Qadea to take over Washington, DC, and cut all three all loose from the rest of the country?

    htom (412a17)

  19. You folks are not carefully analyzing this Obama strategic decision, in my view.

    His 18 month window is actually a checkpoint and a benchmark, to assess where we are and provide an opportunity to reassess our strategy if necessary. Thus it is conditional and not an absolute mandate to withdraw. Regarding withdrawal of our troops, there is no statement or commitment on how rapid a withdrawal it would be, so the Taliban have no reason to lie in wait. I take Obama’s withdrawal statement as a signal that our intent is not to occupy their land indefinitely.

    Moreover, read between the lines here folks. This is not so much about Afghanistan, but about Pakistan, an unstable country, at war against Islamic extremists in their own country, and a substantial nuclear power at some risk of that power coming under the influence of extremists. Thus, this is of tremendous importance to our security.

    It seems to me that Obama is attempting to establish a substantial military presence next door to Pakistan to counter this threat by providing further assistance to Pakistan.

    At the same time, Obama has accepted McChrystal’s analysis of the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan, as well as his recommendations for turning the tide and for improving our relations with the Afghanis themselves, putting less of an occupier image in their face by reducing civilian collateral damage and befriending tribal leaders and further securing population centers.

    You folks would do well to look a little deeper into this challenge, while toning down the usual partisan rhetoric that I see here. This is not a black or white defeat or victory situation, rather, it is an attempt to deal with a credible threat to our national security. Can’t you folks see that?

    Perry (26860f)

  20. Thank you for your enlightened view, Perry. Your received wisdom has made us better people. Apparently you know better than Gibbs and Barcky.

    JD (4a5c67)

  21. Perry does have a point. There isn’t a set speed of withdrawal.

    But the 18 month time-frame is set in stone. That’s ignorant, and doomed to end badly.

    Scott Jacobs (445f98)

  22. I would like to share Perry’s optimism, but as JD points out, in statements after the speech meant to clarify the President’s position, Gibbs has been even firmer in the commitment to start getting out in 2011. If his point was that we don’t plan to be in Afghanistan indefinitely, he could have said that, and demonstrate his conviction by drawing down troops from Korea, Germany, Bosnia, etc., as well as pointing to his decreasing troops in Iraq as the situation has allowed.

    Of course, President Obama can’t be counted on to keep a promise as simple as having a bill posted for 3 days before it is voted on, so I have little confidence in what he says.

    And, it is true that policy will change as the situation changes, but we should know by now that he does not see American military strength as a tool to bring justice, peace, and security in the world, but generally as an arm of an arrogant nation that over reaches into the affairs of other nations (unless it involves supporting anti-democratic regimes in places like Honduras and Iran).

    The German and UK press seem to agree with the point made by Patterico.

    I could be wrong, but I think the Afghan winter makes logistics of military maneuvers near impossible. Perhaps that can be used to our advantage in the realm of counter-insurgency strategy, I don’t know. Otherwise, we are asking the US (and NATO, for what they’re worth) troops to stabilize Afghanistan in about a 6-8 month window once the spring thaw comes.

    MD in Philly (227f9c)

  23. The Russians have to be laughing their asses off. So much blood, so much suffering, just so we’ll cut and run like they did.

    nk (df76d4)

  24. More like the al Qaeda and the Taliban are laughing their asses off.

    Pons Asinorum (b0bc5f)

  25. The Taliban is probably the best thing to happen to that benighted country in a very long time and it’s too bad that it allied itself with Al Qaeda but maybe it had no choice against the drug dealers of the Northern Alliance. But that’s water under the bridge, for us, now. Our real enemies, with the power to threaten our very survival, are Russia and China, and we are not doing well.

    nk (df76d4)

  26. “The Taliban is probably the best thing to happen to that benighted country in a very long time”

    I find that hard to accept. I think they are the worst thing to ever happen to that hellhole. Worse than anarchy, worse than the Russians, and much worse than Afghanistan before the Russians.

    The Taliban didn’t rule until the 90s. When Afghanistan went from bad to hellish and deadly.

    Dustin (cf255c)

  27. At least they hanged rapists, Dustin.

    nk (df76d4)

  28. Yeah, nk, I see your point. They also raped people, though.

    I can see why living in tyranny isn’t the worst possible world, but I don’t accept that Afghanistan has to be a hellhole.

    Dustin (cf255c)

  29. I’ll overlook your quibbling as you look only at the small picture from a partisan/talking points perspective. Not a one of you mentioned one word about what is going on in Pakistan, as you isolate your thinking on Afghanistan only. I suggest you turn off Rush, Glenn and Michelle for a few days, and focus on The Economist, the Jim Lehrer News Hour on PBS, and the Dianne Rehm Show on NPR.

    Perry (26860f)

  30. Perry has his talking points, dammit. Listen to the enlightened one.

    JD (4a5c67)

  31. Perry,

    Your first comment was so polite and nonpartisan and nonoffensive, are you now showing your real colors?

    I’ll give you one big reason why I didn’t mention Pakistan, because if Obama can’t live up to his prior convictions on Afghanistan, the one place that is easiest to make a case for US involvment, then what in the world will he do with Pakistan? He already as a candidate talked about invading Pakistan if they couldn’t control the border with Afghanistan.

    For crying out loud, we have long had proof of Iran’s actions leading to increased deaths of US soldiers, and it seems like Bush nor Obama have done much about that except quibble. So after pussy-footing around with Iran, loosing control of Afghanistan after it was left up to NATO to maintain US victories, you want to know what we think Obama should do with nuclear armed Pakistan?? Hope and pray that enough Pakistanis in and out of governemnt will take offense at the Taliban trying to take increasing parts of their country and kick them out, that’s what!!!

    You just forfeited being taken seriously, once you give the “partisan/talking points perspective” of telling us to turn off Rush and listen to NPR, really now. If you want serious and polite discussion, your move.

    As far as the difficulties in fighting in Afghanistan, remember 2 things:
    1. Folk culture in Afghanistan states that when the devil was thrown out of heaven he landed in Kabul
    and
    2. “Never get in a land war in Asia!”

    MD in Philly (227f9c)

  32. MD – i hate it when I am right after just one comment 😉

    JD (4a5c67)

  33. “He is signalling to the Taliban that they need to lie low, stop their attacks, and give him the political cover to pull out. Then the country is theirs.”

    This line has been repeated over and over as if simply copy and pasted, without even a modicum of discussion as to why this the only thing that could happen, as if no one in the administration had considered or debated this or weighed it out. That’s, frankly, just sort of silly, but I guess non-stop drumbeats about how Obama is evil and wussy and a horrible human being in every possible regard is intended precisely to make such things easy to pretend.

    But the reality is that there are plenty of strong arguments that deadlines force locals to step up their act, knowing that the US won’t be around forever. Likewise, if the Taliban “lays low” for two years, it may well never be able to regain the influence it loses, particularly if the central government regains some stability in the interim.

    Those arguments might well be wrong. It might be that the Taliban will try to wait out the US. But at least make an argument for that which doesn’t simply assume that that’s the ONLY thing that could happen, and thus anyone who favors a timeline is a dunderhead.

    All of the strategic choices here are difficult and are bound to have uncertain outcomes. It’d be nice if people would acknowledge that, instead of pretending that everything is obvious and predictable.

    Drew (d587d9)

  34. The irony, it burns!!!

    JD (bb7add)

  35. You know that thing about “history doesn’t repeat itself, people repeat history?”

    Consider – there is no longer a ‘South’ Viet Nam. Why? Because the Kerry assisted Peace Accords allowed the peace-loving North Viet Namese to lay low, amass an overwhelming number of tanks, supplies, and troops then invade their neighbor. They did all this while the U.S. ‘withdrew’ our military support with the blessing of all those good liberal Democrats.

    Yes, that was the Nixon Presidency and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Kissinger. But those of us who lived through those times – and served – remember the people responsible for the surrender. So, to many of us this seems like ‘another Viet Nam.’ But we aren’t surprised ’cause we’ve been there and done that already.

    Robert N. (ad4ee7)

  36. you heard a lot from folks on the left about how we were running up the national debt. Meanwhile, activists on the right, who’d mostly bit their tongues on this subject during the Bush years, now feel fantastically liberated to once again voice the same fear (even though, by any measure, even the worst estimates of Obama’s spending projects still don’t compare to Bush’s deficit-loving legacy).

    This is the kind of non-partisan, carefully thought out discourse that Drew advances.

    JD (4a5c67)

  37. “as if no one in the administration had considered or debated this or weighed it out”

    You miss my point. I am emphatically stating that this is precisely what they did. They weighed it out. They are willing to concede Afghanistan in exchange for fewer casualties and an apparent lull in hostilities which will permit Obama to bug out.

    Molon Labe (640aad)

  38. JD – You are making that quote up, right? Please, please tell me that you are making that up. No one could commit something that dishonest to paper, could they?

    Have Blue (854a6e)

  39. Drew – We had trememdous success with deadlines dealing with Saddam Hussein and Imadamnutjob. Strongly worded letters work wonders. I say go for it. Obama is a genius!

    daleyrocks (718861)

  40. This, and particularly the 18-month “benchmark” on withdrawal, is just another in a long line of sign-posts to Pakistan that the United States is an un-reliable ally, and that we will, again, cut-and-run from the region.
    The Paks (and the Afghans) know that they have 18-months to make the best deal they can with AQ and the Taliban; and India knows that it will have a nuclear-armed terrorist regime on its’ Western border in that same 18-month time-frame.
    Baracky is leaving the Iraqi’s to the machinations of Iran, and the AfPaks to AQ.
    Now there will be two countries that have to be concerned about their future survival: Israel and India!

    But, Hey! He looked so good. What could go wrong?

    AD - RtR/OS! (2eab1e)

  41. But the reality is that there are plenty of strong arguments that deadlines force locals to step up their act, knowing that the US won’t be around forever drew

    You have a point, but the press in the UK and Germany don’t buy it either. Neither have a large number of Americans who didn’t like it when it was suggested while Bush was in office. We still don’t.

    Do the Afghanis want ongoing US presence anymore than Iraqis? Probably not. They probably are motivated to do what they need to already.

    We had success in Iraq with counterinsurgency methods; when we stayed put in an area long enough to not only chase the enemy out but to protect the populace when they tried to return. When people saw we would not abandon them half-way through a fight, then they could risk working with us.

    Prior to that, the US had sold out S. Vietnam and southern Iraq after Gulf War I, as well as more recently the Iranian protesters.

    “This line has been repeated over and over as if simply copy and pasted,
    We could post 2+2=4 over and over with a simple copy and paste as well, and it would still be true, so what’s your point?

    without even a modicum of discussion as to why this the only thing that could happen,
    Last checked, nobody claimed to give an authoritative analysis of all of the possible things that could happen, we just shared the conclusion that others around the world have shared, that Muhammed Ali shared with his “rope a dope”, that military leaders centuries ago knew, if you can defeat your enemy without firing a shot, then do it. If we pull out prematurely that is what we likely will be doing.

    as if no one in the administration had considered or debated this or weighed it out. That’s, frankly, just sort of silly, but I guess non-stop drumbeats about how Obama is evil and wussy and a horrible human being in every possible regard is intended precisely to make such things easy to pretend.
    With the number of promises from his campaign that he has broken and how well his legislative blitzkrieg is currently going, do you really want to claim this is the best he can do when he is thinking seriously? Besides, no one has said he is a horrible human being in every possible way, we’ve just said that by his long held views and associations he seems much more an Alinsky-Marxist type than the “moderate” he campaigned as, we don’t believe him when he passes a “stimulus bill” when most of the money will not be spent until down the road, as well as a few other things.

    But the reality is that there are plenty of strong arguments that deadlines force locals to step up their act, knowing that the US won’t be around forever

    you’ve given one, we’ve said why we are unconvinced, share with us a few more of the “plenty”

    Yes, JD you were right. I neglected to pay close attention to Perry’s condescionsion at the end of his post.

    Well, more important things to do now.

    MD in Philly (227f9c)

  42. Obama could call it a strategic redeployment. Murtha proposed that with a rapid reaction force on Okinawa, the buffoon.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  43. You miss my point. I am emphatically stating that this is precisely what they did. They weighed it out. They are willing to concede Afghanistan in exchange for fewer casualties and an apparent lull in hostilities which will permit Obama to bug out.
    Comment by Molon Labe

    my” point, Molon Labe? I thought that was Drew’s point

    MD in Philly (227f9c)

  44. Have Blue – That is straight from his webpage, in the first post.

    JD (4a5c67)

  45. “my” point, Molon Labe?

    WTF are you talking about?

    Molon Labe (640aad)


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