Charles Krauthammer: Obama's ambivalent command
Not his? America is at war and he's America's commander in chief. For the soldier being shot at in the field, it makes no difference under whose administration the fighting began. In fact, three out of four Americans killed in Afghanistan have died under Barack Obama's command. That's ownership enough.
And now we know. Indeed, this became hauntingly clear to Obama's own defense secretary within just a few months - before the majority of the troops had arrived in the field, before the new strategy had even been tested.
Militarily incoherent - but politically convenient. It allowed Obama to campaign for re-election proclaiming that "the tide of war is receding."
Because for years the Democrats had used Afghanistan as a talking point to rail against the Iraq War - while avoiding the politically suicidal appearance of McGovernite pacifism. As consultant Bob Shrum later admitted, "I was part of the 2004 Kerry campaign, which elevated the idea of Afghanistan as 'the right war' to conventional Democratic wisdom. This was accurate as criticism of the Bush administration, but it was also reflexive and perhaps by now even misleading as policy."
Iraq is a dumb war, said Obama repeatedly. It's a war of choice. Afghanistan is a war of necessity, the central front in the war on terror. Having run on that, Obama had a need to at least make a show of trying to win the good war, the smart war.
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