Afghanistan–What a Mess

Afghanistan–What a headache for President Barack Obama.  Generally, Americans in recent generations have trusted Republican Presidents more when it comes to military toughness while they trust Democrats with domestic assistance.  I’m not making value judgments here; I’m just sharing what I’ve read and heard, and such generalizations are always subject to change (cases in point: George W. Bush’s approval ratings regarding Iraq took a plunge and public support for health care reform is waning).  Anyway, if candidates really want to make a splash in a presidential race, they have to play up their strengths and play off their weaknesses.   In other words, Republicans need to demonstrate compassion and Democrats need to show toughness.

As a candidate, Obama appealed to his party’s base by attacking the Iraq War, but he demonstrated toughness by affirming the war efforts in Afghanistan.  Now that Afghanistan is looking dicey, the President is at a crossroads.  How does he hold onto his base without looking weak?  Oh, yeah, and how can we win the war?

The President’s solution?  A surge in troop numbers.  He criticized this idea for Iraq, but since it seemed to work pretty well there–and because our military leaders in Afghanistan have asked for more troops–the President is on board with this.

Militarily speaking–how do we avoid having this turn into “another Vietnam” (as people tend to refer to every war they disagree with).  And politically speaking–how does the President keep from alienating his supporters who want us out sooner rather than later?  The President has put a time table on our presence there.  This is a difficult solution to a difficult problem.  On the one hand, it seems only fair to argue that we can’t carry the Afghans forever.  They have to be able to manage their own affairs at some point.  On the other hand, what stops the terrorists from hanging back for a year and a half, just counting the days until we pull out?  I like the idea of getting our troops out of Afghanistan.  I hate the idea of the terrorists taking it over again.