“George Bush and his Neocon allies got America into two costly wars. Barack Obama is getting America out of those two wars” (Updated with chart)

Gaaaa, I hate to link to Huff-Crap, but how can I not link to this…

Robert Creamer:

Like many Progressives I would have preferred a faster time table for withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan. But that does not diminish the fact that President Obama’s announcement of his plan to end the Afghan War provides a good opportunity to consider that massive qualitative differences between his foreign policy and that of the previous administration.

First and foremost, George Bush and his Neocon allies got America into two costly wars. Barack Obama is getting America out of those two wars.

When Obama took office the United States had 180,000 troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. We now have 150,000 troops in those countries. By the end of the year that number will drop to 100,000 and to 70,000 by next summer.

The combat mission in Iraq ended last year. All troops will leave Iraq by the end of next year.

Obama has indicated that all American troops will depart Afghanistan by 2014, with the prospect that their combat mission will end before that date.

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Obama promised to focus like a laser on Al Qaeda, and he did it.

Instead of concentrating on America’s true terrorist enemies, Bush and company focused on Iraq and downplayed the importance of Bin Laden — who it now turns out was still very much in charge of the Al Qaeda network up to the time of his death.

And let’s remember that the swaggering but hapless Bush Neocon crowd presided over the worst attack on the American homeland since Pearl Harbor — ignoring intelligence warnings of a pending assault.

Finally, Bush’s unilateralist, bull-in-a-china -shop approach, sunk America’s reputation in the world to record lows. Obama has restored America’s standing in the world.

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Some have argued that U.S. support of military intervention in Libya stands in contradiction to the view that his foreign policy is qualitatively different from the policies of the past administration. I could not disagree more.

In fact, the approach we have taken to Libya is an example of that difference. In Libya, the United States is a part of a true multi-national effort to protect the Libyan population from a leader that had vowed to kill thousands. That action was called for by the international community through UN resolutions — and by the Arab League.

We have no troops on the ground and now provide only logistical support for airplanes flown by our allies.

It is hard to imagine that anyone who demands — quite correctly — that the world should never again stand by and allow another Darfur or Rwanda or Srebrenica should oppose Obama’s policy in Libya. U.S. policy in Libya does not stand in the tradition of Iraq. It stands in the tradition of the successful multi-national policy in the Balkans that ultimately (though belatedly) saved thousands of lives and ended a bloody ethnic war.

I, for one, am proud that Benghazi did not become Barack Obama’s Rwanda.

When he ran for President, Obama promised to end the War in Iraq, refocus America’s resources on Al Qaeda, bring the conflict in Afghanistan to a close, and restore America’s role in the world. He is keeping those promises.

In summary, whatever you believe about the pace of withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, it is critical that Americans recognize the sharp, qualitative difference between the Neocon policies that cost America so dearly and President Obama’s policies that have restored America’s leadership in the world.

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A-MEN.

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Tom Hanks: “The president has not only lived up to my expectations, he expanded them”

Heads-Up: PBO meets with soldiers at Fort Drum, LIVE HERE NOW.

Always, always, ALWAYS loved Tom Hanks:

It’s a bit early, but Tom Hanks has already made up his mind about the 2012 presidential election. He’s voting for Barack Obama, again.

In an interview with CNN, the actor who’s been on a media blitz promoting a new movie, explained his endorsement.

Host Kyra Phillips introduced the subject, saying: “All right. President Obama, you’ve been a big supporter…”

Interrupting, Hanks said, “And I will be again! Let me take it right now. I’m going to vote for him for his re-election in 2012. I beat to you the punch.”

Phillips pressed the actor for his thoughts on Obama’s “evolving” stance on gay marriage. “Does President Obama need to endorse it?” she asked.

“Isn’t that above my pay grade to make comments on?” said Hanks, before explaining, “I think all of America should endorse the idea because there’s nothing to be afraid of.”

Hanks, a longtime Democrat, went on to say that the president has not only lived up to his expectations but “expanded” them.

Said Hanks, “If you would have told me a few years ago that ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ would be repealed and about a billion jobs at General Motors and Chrysler would have been saved because the president was smart enough and strong enough and bold enough to do so, I would have said, ‘Wow. That’s a good president, I think I’ll vote for him again.’”

“For the first time in ten years, the light at the end of the tunnel of the U.S. war in Afghanistan is suddenly visible”

Michael Cohen:

To understand the implications of President Obama’s speech on Afghanistan this evening, perhaps the best place to start is not with what he said tonight in public, but what he allegedly said in private 18 months ago. Then, as he was making the decision to take the advice of his military and surge 30,000 troops to fight a war he had inherited, the President posed a leading question to his top general:

Inside the Oval Office, Obama asked Petraeus, “David, tell me now. I want you to be honest with me. You can do this in 18 months?”

“Sir, I’m confident we can train and hand over to the ANA [Afghan National Army] in that time frame,” Petraeus replied.

“Good. No problem,” the president said. “If you can’t do the things you say you can in 18 months, then no one is going to suggest we stay, right?”

“Yes, sir, in agreement,” Petraeus said.

Tonight the bill on that promise came due. Reporter Bob Woodward’s 2010 book-length account of the Obama administration’s decision to escalate in Afghanistan shows Obama siding with Petraeus in 2009, but only ambivalently and conditionally, and in a way that suggested he was willing to give the counterinsurgency strategy a chance but was not convinced of its success. If there is one overriding takeaway from Obama’s speech tonight, it is that the same President who 18 months ago was led by his generals into an escalation that he didn’t appear to fully support has now taken back control of his policy in Afghanistan. Right now, that means leading U.S. strategy down the path of de-escalation. As Obama said, this not the end of the war in Afghanistan, but it’s certainly the beginning of America’s effort to “wind down the war.”

// more serious non-hair-on-fire read

“Obama makes good on his promise…growing from a cautious new President into a commander in chief asserting control over the military”

Hi guys,

Today’s busy schedule:
10:00 AM
PBO and VPB meet with House Democratic Leadership.

12:45 PM
PBO departs the South Lawn en route Joint Base Andrews.

1:00 PM
PBO departs Joint Base Andrews en route Fort Drum, New York.

2:15 PM
PBO arrives Fort Drum, New York.

2:30 PM
PBO meets with soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division.

3:10 PM
PBO meets with Gold Star Families.

4:15 PM
PBO departs Fort Drum en route New York City, New York.

5:10 PM
PBO arrives New York City, New York.

7:05 PM
PBO delivers remarks at a DNC event.
Sheraton Hotel and Towers

8:00 PM
PBO delivers remarks at a DNC event.
Daniel

9:50 PM
PBObama delivers remarks at a DNC event.
Broadway Theatre

11:05 PM Obama departs New York City, New York en route Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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Ryan Lizza:

Tonight, President Obama will announce a timetable for withdrawing the “surge” troops sent to Afghanistan that is bolder than many expected. Though the news is slightly surprising, it’s worth noting that Obama’s aides have been arguing for a very long time that the President was serious about the Afghan withdrawal. This past spring, when I was reporting on Obama’s foreign policy, here’s what Ben Rhodes, a deputy national-security adviser, told me about drawing down troops:

We’ve done that in Iraq. And in Afghanistan, we’re going to begin to implement that approach in July. But there shouldn’t be any doubt about that. And anybody who does doubt that should just look at how the President kept his commitment in Iraq. When he says he’s going to steadily draw down U.S. forces, he means what he says.

One of the themes of my piece about Obama’s foreign policy was that the President seemed to be growing in office as he dealt with a series of complicated foreign-policy crises. Two case studies of that growth and confidence are the evolution in his policy on democracy in the Middle East and the evolution of his policy on Afghanistan. On the former, Obama moved from a crabbed realist pose to a more risky but principled embrace of democracy, even at the expense of stability. On Afghanistan, it is a story of Obama growing from a cautious new President, overly deferential to his military advisers, into a commander in chief asserting control over them.

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Sullivan:

There is, as with the Iraq withdrawal, no triumphalism. But destroying half of al Qaeda’s leadership, including Osama bin Laden, as Americans struggle in a stubbornly sluggish economy, is good enough. The longest war in the history of America will come to an end … in three years’ time. It will have lasted thirteen years. And Obama’s pragmatism – his refusal to embrace either the Full McCain Jacket or the impulse to just get the hell out of there ASAP – has helped him.

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For more than 200 years, the United States would not have dreamed of occupying Afghanistan, the graveyard of empires. We intervened in a just cause, and, thanks to Obama’s callibrated resilience and new focus on al Qaeda, and the brilliance and bravery of the armed forces, we have done our job. We can never care more about a country’s future security than the people of that country care about it themselves. That much we have learned. And the core goals of that original impulse have been achieved. The perpetrator of 9/11 is dead, and, more to the point, discredited. And the neoconservative dream of a democratizing Arab world as the only ultimate solution to the threat of Islamism has come true.

Because the United States did not impose it.

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Chris Good:

// snip

The president’s delivery was good — crisp, decisive-sounding, not much hesitation or deliberation in his voice. The speech was well rehearsed, which was how Obama probably needed to sound.
But we saw, on Wednesday night, a president clearly pulled in different directions. Obama’s speech was aimed at a domestic audience mostly opposed to the war. We heard promises that the war, really, is going to end. “Afghans are fighting and dying for their country,” Obama told us, speaking to those who may think Americans shouldn’t be fighting and dying for Afghanistan. Most of the explanations for why we’re there, given by Obama tonight, involved the attacks of 9/11. It was, in many ways, an anti-war speech, not justifying a continued, nation-building presence, but justifying Obama’s own foreign policy — advertising a minor drawdown, sometimes echoing the buzzwords of opposition to president George W. Bush’s wars. At the same time, the president advertised progress.

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Michael Tomasky:

The president of the United States, whether it’s Barack Obama or George W. Bush or Charlie Sheen, has one chief job here: to make sure that Afghanistan does not fall back under Taliban control. That’s a president’s bottom line, period. Imagine that you are the president and one day—let us say a day during the year when you’re seeking reelection—the headlines blare that the Taliban are back in Kabul, just as they were in 1996. You are in all likelihood finished politically. More importantly, you have arguably exposed your country to further harm. That would be any president’s bottom line, more than a “war-weary” public, more than your electoral base, more than anything. And let’s face it, it’s especially true for a Democrat.

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So I cut Obama more slack on this question than a lot of people do. There will be complaints that drawing down 33,000 troops by the end of 2012 means that 66,000—more than when he took office—will remain. Those people complaining aren’t the president.

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