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April 09, 2010

In Which Fouad Ajami Just Lays Into Obama's Strategic "Thinking"

I'm going to pull some quotes but you really should read the whole thing.

Still, this recent dust-up with Mr. Karzai—his outburst against the West, his melodramatic statement that he, too, could yet join the Taliban in a campaign of "national resistance," his indecent warning that those American and NATO forces soldiering to give his country a chance are on the verge of becoming foreign occupiers—is a statement about the authority of the Obama administration and its standing in Afghanistan and the region.

Forgive Mr. Karzai as he tilts with the wind and courts the Iranian theocrats next door. We can't chastise him for seeking an accommodation with Iranian power when Washington itself gives every indication that it would like nothing more than a grand bargain with Iran's rulers.

In Afghanistan, and throughout the Middle East, populations long in the path, and in the shadow, of great foreign powers have a good feel for the will and staying power of those who venture into their world. If Iran's bid for nuclear weapons and a larger role in the region goes unchecked, and if Iran is now a power of the Mediterranean (through Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Beirut), the leaders in Kabul, whoever they are, are sure to do their best to secure for themselves an Iranian insurance policy.

...

In word and deed, Mr. Obama has given a sense of his priorities. The passion with which he pursued health-care reform could be seen at home and abroad as the drive of a man determined to remake the American social contract. He aims to tilt the balance away from liberty toward equality. The very ambition of his domestic agenda in health care and state intervention in the economy conveys the causes that stir him.

...

All this plays out under the gaze of an Islamic world that is coming to a consensus that a discernible American retreat in the region is in the works. America's enemies are increasingly brazen, its friends unnerved. Witness the hapless Lebanese, once wards of U.S. power, now making pilgrimages, one leader at a time, to Damascus. They, too, can read the wind: If Washington is out to "engage" that terrible lot in Syria, they better scurry there to secure reasonable terms of surrender.

Earlier today Allah asked on Twitter why some like Sarah Palin and Liz Cheney feel obliged to defend Karzai. It's a good question and one I considered the other day when I did it myself. The short answer for me is, he's the only game in town. It's not out of love or respect but out of the fact we are inexorably tied to him at the moment and our COIN strategy requires an indigenous government. Right now, for better or for worse, that means Hamid Karzai.

Obama's fighting with Karzai only highlights the inconsistencies in Obama's Afghanistan policy...add troops but announce the deadline for pulling out, set a stable government as a condition of success and then undermine it. It's all smoke and mirrors designed to walk the line between the need to be seen as strong on defense by moderate/independent voters but not too strong that the leftwing base desserts him.

As Ajami points out, the real pros in the region, the ones whose lives literally depend on reading the tea leaves and navigating the competing power centers, aren't impressed with Obama's straddle. They see the writing on the wall and are acting accordingly...they can't count on the US so they will make deals with our enemies, nations that are in it for the long run.

This is typical of Obama's 'above it all', passive-aggressive crap. By not fully committing to the effort, he forces others to walk away from us. He will then use that 'abandonment' or 'lack of progress' as his excuse to pull out. He'll pretend it was forced on him, nothing he could have done about it. The fact is by his actions and inaction, he will have set the stage and manipulated the outcome.

Lives will be lost, we will be less secure and America will be weaker.


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posted by DrewM. at 05:15 PM

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