The word in the media is that Obama has decided to send about 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan. He will make a speech to the nation on December 1 [next Tuesday] announcing the decision. It is not difficult to figure out what he will say. He will lay down, firm, inflexible markers of success. He will say that if the Kharzai regime has not made major advances in combating corruption and establishing a legitimate government in six months, he will begin the withdrawal of American troops. He will say that in any case, he is prepaqred to commit troops for only five years, after which they must be totally withdrawn. And he will say that the focus of the mission of the troops will be on counteracting Al Qaida, not on fighting the Taliban.
And he will mean every word of it.
So Kharzai will make some head fakes in the direction of dealing with corruption. [Will he really put his brother in prison? I doubt it.] The Taliban will continue to expand their sphere of influence. [Just today there are reports that they have opened operations in an area of Afghanistan that the Americans had thought was secure.] And inevitably, American casualties will rise.
But the blood of these men and women will be on Obama's hands, not on Bush's hands, for with the escalation, the war will become Obama's war. Six months from now, no real progress will have been made, but there will be some Potemkin Village successes to which the generals will point. What is more, when they ask for more troops, to protect those already there, how will Obama say no? After all, it will be he who chose to send them there.
This is wrong, wrong wrong. It is a mistake of monumental proportions. And all the deliberateness of decision making, all the lines drawn in the sand, all the time lines and deadlines and inflexible conditions will not make it anything but a mistake.
I have seen this movie before, and the sequel was Richard Nixon.