Instead, the president mostly stays quiet, treating the war in Afghanistan as an afterthought. He appears to spend far less time, energy, and political capital on it than he has on virtually every other piece of his policy agenda. We've heard far more from this president about health care, government stimulus -- even basketball -- than we have about the war in Afghanistan. We don't need another wartime president like Lyndon Johnson, who tried to run the war in Vietnam out of the Oval Office, but we do need a sense that this president is engaged and truly cares about the outcome. If he doesn't convey this commitment, how will he rally the American people behind him?
Obama has said that troop withdrawal from Afghanistan will be determined by facts on the ground, and that he will be guided in his decision by what his officers tell him. But he is the commander in chief, and the military is always subservient to the civilian leadership in a democracy. The decision to stay in Afghanistan with sufficient troop strength to maintain our gains and protect us from future attacks ultimately rests on the president's shoulders. Politics should play no role.
Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .
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