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Obama vs. Biden?

11:17 AM, Oct 2, 2009 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
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The article about Afghanistan policy in today's Washington Post is full of snide, self-confident, anonymous criticism of General Stanley McChrystal, the man Obama chose to lead U.S. forces in Afghanistan. The tone of the criticism is consistent with the arrogance of the Obama White House.

But in this case, it's also counterproductive. Not just because it's bad form to mock your lead wartime commander in news articles, but because in several cases McChrystal is making arguments that the president himself made -- almost verbatim -- in recent months.

For instance, according to the Post:

One senior administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the meeting, said, "A lot of assumptions -- and I don't want to say myths, but a lot of assumptions -- were exposed to the light of day."

Among them, according to three senior administration officials who attended Wednesday's meeting at the White House, is McChrystal's contention that the Taliban and al-Qaeda share the same strategic interests and that the return to power of the Taliban would automatically mean a new sanctuary for al-Qaeda.

Is that a myth? Here is Barack Obama on March 27, 2009, announcing his first new strategy for Afghanistan: "And if the Afghan government falls to the Taliban - or allows al Qaeda to go unchallenged - that country will again be a base for terrorists who want to kill as many of our people as they possibly can."

He added:

The return in force of al Qaeda terrorists who would accompany the core Taliban leadership would cast Afghanistan under the shadow of perpetual violence.

Later in the Post article, the reporters quote a "senior Obama official" comparing Afghanistan and Pakistan. "Eight months ago, if you had asked people which was worse, everybody would have said Pakistan is worse and Afghanistan is in good shape."

Afghanistan was in good shape? 2008 was the deadliest year for American troops there. Nobody paying any attention to developments there believed that it was "in good shape."


Admiral Mike Mullen, in an interview on March 1, 2009, spoke of the "growing security concerns that we all have with respect to what's going on in Afghanistan."

In late February, President Obama said: "With respect to Afghanistan, I think that all of us believe that the situation has deteriorated somewhat there."

And in his March 27 speech, he said:

The situation is increasingly perilous. It has been more than seven years since the Taliban was removed from power, yet war rages on, and insurgents control parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Attacks against our troops, our NATO allies, and the Afghan government have risen steadily.

So who, exactly, is clueless here?