The press is reporting that the top military leaders have “endorsed” President Obama’s Afghan troop withdrawal decision. With all due respect to the fine reporters, that is not the news. Under our Constitution, military leaders have no choice but to endorse the president’s decision after giving him their best advice. They could resign, of course, but to have the entire senior military leadership resign over a president’s decision contrary to their advice would be a disaster, and not least for the troops on the ground.
Make no mistake, however. The entire military leadership believes the president’s decision is a mistake, and especially the decision to withdraw the remainder of the surge forces by September 2012. They will soldier on and do their best, but as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, put it, in characteristic understatement, they believe the decision will increase the risk to the troops and increase the chancethat the mission will not succeed. It bears repeating that the deadline imposed by the president has nothing to do with military or strategic calculation. It has everything to do with an electoral calculation. President Obama wants those troops out two months before Americans go to the voting booth.
Whole thing here.
So now we know: After 10 years, billions of dollars and thousands of American casualties, victory in Afghanistan come 2014 will consist of having killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. The rest is process, as we wind down our foreign wars and get on with the really important work -- domestic infrastructure repair and clean energy.
That, at least, is what President Obama seemed to say last night in his 16-minute address to the nation -- a campaign speech designed to paint him more as dispassionate peacemaker than as commander in chief.
The actual news was fully expected: The troop withdrawals start next month, with 10,000 home by year's end and the rest of the 33,000 Obama ordered into Afghanistan as part of the 2009 surge out by next summer -- just in time for the 2012 election.
Win, lose or draw -- and against the advice of his generals -- they're coming home.
Oh, yes -- and it's all George W. Bush's fault.
Whole thing here.