The president’s proposed Afghanistan policy is not a product of intelligent rethinking so much as it is a predictable Obama preference for an imaginary centrism.
On the one hand, he is sending 30,000 more American troops, who have been dying at a current rate of more than 500 per year.
On the other hand, he is attempting to placate growing anti-war sentiment by pledging to limit the duration of the war.
As with all compromises, this one will satisfy only the few. It is what President Bill Clinton called kicking the can down the street.
The antiwar movement will continue to support Rep. Barbara Lee’s bill cutting off funds for the troop escalation and Rep. Jim McGovern’s resolution calling for the administration to offer an exit strategy.
Sending 30,000 or more American soldiers to die for the Karzai government is a waste of valuable American lives, which at the present rate will exceed 1,000 in two years of bloody battles under President Obama. Spending one million dollars per American soldier will mean a waste of one trillion dollars on this war by the end of the President’s term of eight years.
These costs in human lives and tax dollars are simply unsustainable.
The president is tragically jeopardizing his domestic agenda by this expenditure of tax dollars without any tax increases. Like President Johnson before him, President Obama is squandering any hope for his progressive domestic agenda by this tragic escalation of the war.
As I committed myself during Vietnam, I am committing myself to do everything possible to turn our nation’s priorities around and make President Obama’s domestic agenda a possibility. Just as President Johnson could not pay for guns and butter, President Obama cannot possibly pay for Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Pentagon’s projection of a “long war” of 50 years duration.
I am afraid to say that President Obama is even risking his presidency by this decision. From this point forward, he will lack the support of the rank and file Democratic majority and become dependent on the very Republicans whose highest priority is to defeat him in 2012.
Tom Hayden is the author of 17 books, a former California state senator and a longtime peace activist.