The president declined to send the number of troops his generals recommended. He explained that the surge was designed to "break the Taliban's momentum" -- hardly a rousing war aim. Lest anyone be in any doubt about his eagerness to escape his own war, he said in August of 2010, "Next July we will begin a transition to Afghan responsibility. ... This transition will begin because open-ended war serves neither our interests nor the Afghan people's." In 2012, the NATO command in Afghanistan reported that insurgent attacks were down by 5 percent over the previous year but still well above 2009 levels. So much for even the tepid goal of halting momentum.
Why did President Obama order the surge? Was it to validate his campaign rhetoric about the good war? David Sanger of The New York Times reported that Obama "concluded in his first year that the Bush-era dream of remaking Afghanistan was a fantasy. ... So he narrowed the goals ... and narrowed them again, until he could make the case that America had achieved limited objectives in a war that was, in any traditional sense, unwinnable."
At the NDU, President Obama suggested, "Americans are deeply ambivalent about war." Perhaps so. There is little doubt that Obama is ambivalent about war. His extended Hamlet-like soliloquy on the use of drones was meant to convey his refined moral sensibilities.
Where then was his conscience when he sent thousands of young Americans to fight and die for something he believed unwinnable? More than 1,500 Americans have died in Afghanistan since Obama became president (more than 3 times the number killed in Bush's eight years). For what cause did they die? What did Obama achieve? And why does no one care about the outcome of Obama's war?