Juan Cole provides a list of the top ten things that could derail Obama’s plan for Afghanistan.
The biggest threat of derailment comes from an American public facing 17 percent true unemployment and a collapsing economy who are being told we need to spend an extra $30 billion to fight less than 100 al-Qaeda guys in the mountains of Afghanistan, even after the National Security Adviser admitted that they are not a security threat to the US.
That’s the analogy to Vietnam Obama didn’t mention last night: U.S. soldiers went on strike, with the support of U.S. citizens. They fragged their officers and refused to fight in an imperialist war, in the context of a large and growing antiwar movement. The U.S. public has clearly withdrawn its support for this war, even before they were hit by and made to pay for the crises of capitalism.
Andrew Sullivan also has a sane reaction to Obama’s plan. Here are some excerpts:
This war is already eight years’ old and will soon have lasted longer than Vietnam. Its rationale today is very different than what it was in 2001 – 2002. Al Qaeda is based in Pakistan, not Afghanistan. The US, thanks to Bush and the recession, is bankrupt and facing a long and brutal period of high unemployment and soon huge cuts in entitlements or big tax hikes.
Our enemy already knows that the US cannot sustain neo-imperial control of a vast inhospitable country on the other side of the planet for more than a decade. And if the US were to do so, it would be becoming the imperial power the neocons and the Islamists truly want. What Obama was saying last night is that he is determined to return America to normal, to unplug this vast attempt at global control in Muslim countries that Bush and Cheney unleashed. He is trying to unwind the empire, not expand it.
How best to unwind the empire? By giving McChrystal what he wants and giving him a couple of years to deliver tangible results. If McChrystal delivers, fantastic. . .If McChrystal does his best and we still get nowhere, Obama will have demonstrated – not argued, demonstrated – that withdrawal is the least worst option.