The President addressed the nation last night; informing the country that he was beginning to draw down the number of troops fighting in Afghanistan.
As expected, the President informed the prime time audience that he would bring home 10,000 troops by the end of this year with an additional 20,000 troops returning by September 2012. He said that the remaining troop levels would be reduced on a steady basis over the course of the following two years.
As expected, the President’s remarks were met with criticism from both the right and the left. Voices on the right criticized the President for ignoring the advice of his generals, lamented the loss of hard fought gains and feared for the safety of troops left behind. The President’s base was clearly disappointed that the President did not withdraw more troops at a more rapid rate. They argued that we can no longer afford to fund the war; that any gains we may have made in Afghanistan will be lost no matter when we leave and that a non-partisan 72% of the American people want us out of Afghanistan …now.
Yesterday we predicted that the President would order a portion of the “surge” deployment brought home this year with the remainder of that deployment returning home in the next 18-24 months. We said that the number would be militarily insignificant and politically motivated. It is no coincidence that this first wave of troops will return home right before the November elections.
Obama wants to bring the troops home; but he doesn’t want to lose this war. He knows the voters are tiring of this fight; but he doesn’t want to appear weak on the eve of the elections. So he does what all President’s before him have done…he splits the difference. He brings home the surge deployment for political cover while still providing his general’s with twice the number of troops that they had at their disposal when he took office.
It should come as no surprise that the President is playing politics with the lives of our troops. That is what President’s do. They have been doing it for years.
We had hoped that this President might be different.