War for Political Repute

David Rothkopf on “Obama’s Debacle” in Afghanistan:

…The president opposed his own policy of sending in more troops to stabilize Afghanistan from the moment he approved it after months and months of messy internal wrangling. So why did he do it? The answer is that that Obama was leaving Iraq and could not afford to look weak in Afghanistan at the same time or he would come under political attack from the right. Getting out faster might also alienate the military to the point that public discord would damage the president. Although White House-military relations were strained from the beginning of his administration, Obama’s team worked hard to keep a lid on tensions. So they swallowed their doubts about the military judgments they were getting about a conflict they were increasingly sure was unwinnable.

Some will see this as an attempt to absolve Obama from full responsibility for his 2009 decision to surge in Afghanistan. I see it as all the more damning, aside from being probably accurate. In fact, I wrote more than a year ago that Obama’s war in Afghanistan was about saving political face. Throughout history there have been a lot of reasons for going to war, but few are as cynical as one’s political reputation. Hundreds of billions of dollars were wasted, thousands of soldiers and civilians were killed so that Obama could avoid being called a wimp by Republicans. How offensive.