Several weeks ago, I wrote a post critical of Obama dragging his feet on deciding what to do in Afghanistan. Now that he's made a decision, I'll continue to be critical, since I'd rather we just pack up and come home. Note that I think we should pack up and come home from pretty much everywhere in the world, including Germany, Japan, Korea, Iraq, etc. I fear that we are following the path of the former Soviet Union, pouring our national resources into a mighty military until the point that it bankrupts us. The amount of stability we add to the world with troops in over a hundred nations doesn't equal the amount of instability that will be created when the dollar has all the prestige and buying power of Monopoly money.
However, please note I've been opposed to most of our military adventures for decades due to my libertarian leanings. So, while I dislike Obama's decision and decision process, I'm also gob-smacked by the hypocrisy of right-wing critics of Obama. Limbaugh, Palin, and other prominent right wing voices griped for most of the year that Obama wasn't giving Afghanistan the troops needed for victory. Yet, the troop levels under Obama were already higher than they were under Bush. Where was the right's criticism of Bush's timidness for the proceding seven years? Famously, Cheney criticized Obama for "dithering." But it seems to me that Bush and Cheney had a policy of permanant dithering on Afghanistan. Dithering was the actual plan. We occupied the country for seven years with just enough troops to keep the taliban from marching into Kabul, but not enough force to do anything like bringing actual peace and stability to the country. It may be argued that peace and stability weren't and aren't possible without a massive multi-decade multi-trillion-dollar nation building effort that the public will never support. But, in that case, I don't see how it's moral to keep troops in a country for seven years primarily to harrass people with cave-men morality and technology.
The taliban were never an actual threat to the world. Osama bin Laden wasn't and isn't an actual threat to the US commensurate with the response to him. His terrorist actions cause lots of local pain and suffering, but it wasn't like he had armies waiting on aircraft carriers to land on the shores of NYC and occupy it. On the other hand, with a few box cutters and airplane tickets, he's provoked a response that has killed and maimed far more Americans than he could touch with his original attack, and caused far more economic damage. It's like dying from a bee-sting--the original injury is painful, but it's the body's overzealous, disproportunate immune response that actually proves fatal.
The one thing I admired about Obama's speech this week was his committment to wrapping the war up without passing it on to his successor. It's tough to know if he'll actually keep his word on this, but, one can hope.