Monday, December 7, 2009

Obama's Afganistan Policy - Confused & Dangerous

As I write this blog posting on December 7, the anniversary of the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 by the Japanese that brought the United States into World War II, I am reminded of the importance of International Relations and getting it right. Years ago when I studied International Relations 325 at university, there were two very important principles that still resonate today. First, a nation's vital interests are those worth going to war to preserve. And, second, that the President of the United States must speak with complete clarity in foreign policy to avoid the potential for miscalculation by our enemies. Though there are many examples of both success and failure in implementing these principles, one in particular comes to mind.

When President Kennedy met Nikita Khrushchev in 1961 in Vienna, Kennedy failed to stress the application of the Monroe Doctrine imposed by President James Monroe, our fifth President, related to Cuba. Monroe in a very gutsy move proclaimed that the age of colonization in the New World was over and this was around 1825. This doctrine should have been applied to Castro's Cuba, which became a Communist satellite in 1959. President Kennedy should have told Khrushchev in no uncertain terms that the United States would not tolerate Soviet bases in Cuba. Kennedy thought his meeting with Khrushchev was social, which was clearly not the case. Khruschev walked away thinking that the young, inexperienced, Kennedy was weak, which is what led the Cuban Missile Crisis and near nuclear was in October, 1962.

This week the Obama Administration articulated a confused message related to the war in Afghanistan. The President finally approved the placement of 30,000 more troops in Afghanistan; though his generals asked for 40,000 - 60,000 troops to get the job done. But then the President went on to say that the United States would begin withdrawing our troops by July, 2011; just 18 months away. Since it will take six or more months to get these troops in place, this time frame is unrealistic. Obama made the statement to satisfy the left wing of the Democrat Socialist Party that would have our country pull out right now. Then on Sunday talk shows, General Petreaus and Secretary of Defense Gates, went on to clarify that the Obama Administration did not actually plan to pull the troops out by July, 2011; but to maybe think about beginning the process if there is a perfect world. So which is it?

Most important, why on earth would any President and our country reveal troop levels, entry and exit dates, or any information about our plans for war in Afghanistan or any war. It is unimaginable that such information would have been made public during World War II when the operative slogan was "loose lips sink ships". I support government transparency; but not when our soldier's lives are at stake. If we are at war in Afghanistan under President Obama's leadership, it is because Obama said during the campaign that this was the "right war" and Iraq was the wrong war presumably because the terrorists that planned 9/11 were based in Afghanistan and we have a vital interest in the security of Pakistan because we don't want nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorists. So again, if we have a vital interest in this region, which is clear, then we need to fight the war to win not please the left wing of the Democrat Socialist Party. President Obama's Afghanistan Policy is confused and dangerous. Our enemies will just wait us out and then move in to take over Afghanistan and perhaps Pakistan. This is just International Relations 325 and it is serous business not a photo op for a speech at West Point by the President. I just wish President Obama has taken the course.

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