To express shock and surprise, it helps tremendously if the shocked and surprised is actually shocked and surprised. I am not talking about the time you found out about the surprise party and faked a few “OMGs” but about the left in this country expressing their dismay at President Obama’s decisions to add troops in Afghanistan. I mean, during the campaign in July 2008 during a trip to the region, then candidate Obama said on Face the Nation:
The Afghan government needs to do more. But we have to understand that the situation is precarious and urgent here in Afghanistan. And I believe this has to be our central focus, the central front, on our battle against terrorism…I think one of the biggest mistakes we’ve made strategically after 9/11 was to fail to finish the job here, focus our attention here. We got distracted by Iraq… troop levels must increase in Afghanistan…For at least a year now, I have called for two additional brigades, perhaps three.
Seems pretty clear to me where Obama stood on the issue. Yes, he needed to evaluate based on new information and the current status, but you had a pretty decent idea of his general thoughts on the matter.
So did the left not listen, forget or in all probability, thought its role in the election would press the President to a different conclusion? My bet’s on the audacity of hope rather than sheer ignorance. Fortunately, Obama rendered his decision apart from the left’s influence. At least partially, that is.
I have never been a fan of hard timeline’s for troop draw downs. Particularly when the enemy can live in caves protected by human shields till the clock winds down. However, I totally get the importance of an “exit strategy”. The problem becomes 1) defining the meaning of exit strategy and 2) the compelling need to broadcast it not only to our allies, but to the bad guys as well. More meaningful are pronouncing benchmarks, or goals in everyday parlance, that direct strategy, portray strength and educate the American public. Failing to do so might render the US electorate planning its own exit strategy. One that neither the left nor Obama will endorse.