We need "a warrior," not "a flower child."
The anguished mother of an American soldier killed in Afghanistan said this about President Barack Obama. She objects to the rules of engagement, which she feels caused her son's death. The recent Rolling Stone piece on the former Afghanistan commander, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, showed widespread troop disapproval of these rules, designed to minimize civilian casualties but which increase the danger to coalition soldiers in the field.
But this is the mindset of Obama.
As a candidate for president, Obama criticized President George W. Bush for "wrongly" taking the nation to war in Iraq and thus "neglecting" Afghanistan. Then President Obama spent months deciding whether to agree to the 40,000 additional troops requested by McChrystal, whom Obama appointed after firing his successor. Reportedly, the general wanted 80,000 more troops but scaled it down after fierce resistance. And Obama agreed to a goal of recruiting and training approximately 250,000 Afghan troops and police, well short of the 400,000 requested by McChrystal.
Finally agreeing to an increase of 30,000 troops, Obama simultaneously announced that in July 2011, troops will begin coming home. Afghan political analyst Ahmad Sayedi predicted this announcement would embolden Afghan terrorists: "When the USA sets a timeline of 18 months for troop withdraw, this by itself boosts the morale of the opponents and makes them less likely to take any step towards reconciliation." Sen. John McCain recently said, "You cannot tell the enemy when you're leaving in warfare and expect your strategy to be able to prevail."
The "war of necessity" became the schizophrenic war.
What happens if we leave before the Afghan government can maintain security? Will it again become a base of operation for al-Qaida and other terrorist groups? Will they step up their efforts in neighboring Pakistan, a country that possesses nuclear bombs? Will a defeat in Afghanistan confirm the enemy's assumption that we cannot and will not make the necessary commitment to defeat them?
Obama now seems to speak of Summer 2011 less as a fixed date for withdrawal and more as one based on conditions. But it's hard to say what the President believes. In any event, the mixed signals give comfort to the enemy.
Without American public support, the war in Afghanistan cannot be won. Without a commander in chief committed to winning, the war in Afghanistan cannot be won. A commitment requires the President to repeatedly and persuasively explain why we are at war and, if we leave too soon, the consequences to national security.