President Obama will announce an increase
in American troops in Afghanistan Tuesday night in a speech at West
Point. He is expected to add approximately 30,000 troops and to
articulate a long-term exit strategy not pegged to specific benchmarks.
The shift in Afghan strategy promises to be a new but difficult chapter
in our eight years of war there. Obama will meet significant challenges
in Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan, but what about at home? Here
are the domestic hurdles he faces.
- Skepticism in Populace and Congress The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder notes Obama's challenge in persuading "an increasingly skeptical nation and a Democratic Congress that is threatening to condition its budgeting on identifiable off-ramps and timeframes." He writes, "His challenge is to persuade Americans that the war in Afghanistan is winnable, as Americans tend to give their presidents significant leeway so long as they believe that the president is confident in his strategy." Ambinder adds, "An official said that Obama plans to try explain the interconnection between the the stability of Pakistan and the nexus of terror in Afghanistan. An explanation that the American people would accept has proven elusive."
- Political Tightrope Walk Politics Daily's David Corn asks, "Can a president declare a war must be won but not proclaim he'll wage that war for as many years as is necessary to succeed?" He writes, "Democratic voters and legislators are skeptical of expanding the war; Republicans favor it. So those who generally want the Obama presidency to succeed are about to be alienated big-time; simultaneously, Obama will find most of his political support for the troops increase among those who usually yearn for his failure. That's a prescription for political trouble." Corn says Obama is "betting his presidency on Afghanistan."
- Revolt From Liberals Michael Moore all but promises to lead it. "And with [tomorrow's speech] you will do the worst possible thing you could do -- destroy the hopes and dreams so many millions have placed in you. With just one speech tomorrow night you will turn a multitude of young people who were the backbone of your campaign into disillusioned cynics. You will teach them what they've always heard is true -- that all politicians are alike," he writes. "One more throwing a bone from you to the Republicans and the coalition of the hopeful and the hopeless may be gone -- and this nation will be back in the hands of the haters quicker than you can shout 'tea bag!'"
- Obama's Political Hedge Jules Crittendon isn't impressed. "Sounds like he wants it both ways. To be able to assure everyone we’re getting out while assuring everyone we’re not going anywhere. If that’s the case, this promises to be a tour de force of Obamian rhetorical gymnastics," he writes. "What Obama and the Democrats don’t seem to have figured out is, Americans hate war, but they hate losing more. And they really hate losers."