“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


70 thoughts on ““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”

  1. BWD, at no time is the title of your blog more appropriate than now.

    Barack Hussein Obama, President of the United States of America, Commander in Chief, is, indeed, THE ONLY ADULT IN THE ROOM.

    He says what he means, and he means what he says. From my view, if he’s pissed of the “perpetually whining left” and his pissed off the “right wing crazies” all at the same time, then he’s got the answer that works the best.

  2. While the Banshees scream, moan, whine, plot, lie, cheat, steal, there really is NO one who can get around PBO’s mastery at forming a strategy and seeing it through fruition.

  3. And boner said that the house republicans will hold this administration accountable, if Afghanistan gets worse.

    In other words, and just like on the economy, they are hoping for failure! Ugh!

    Their motives are disingenuous!

  4. For seven years the Bush administration mismanaged the Afghanistan war. President Obama strategized for months and put together a detailed plan to finally end the war. He was actively involved in monitoring the progress and meeting milestones. And by the way, he takes out OBL. This drawdown is not the start of a new strategy. It is the implementation of a decision made in 2009. As I recall, there was a lot of complaining about the fact that President Obama was taking so much time to develop the plan.

    Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said we really didn’t have a plan until 2009 which was 8 years late. We are at this juncture because of the leadership of PBO. But apparently, he didn’t provide enough detail for Rachel Maddow. I expect she will pretend to be the president tonight and give the speech SHE thinks President Obama should have given.


    Gates acknowledges a historical similarity to the Vietnam War. โ€œThere is one parallel that I think is appropriate, and that is we came to the right strategy and the right resources very late in the game,โ€ Gates says. โ€œPresident Obama, I think, got the right strategy and the right resources for Afghanistanโ€”but eight years in.โ€


  5. Thank you for this information.

    Our disgraced national media, has once again pretentiously having a selectivity of memory loss to coin and flame their narrative.

    I would like the Obama Team on the air waves making and re-enforcing the president’s point of views for the MSM, Fox and their right wing media echo chamber are NEVER going to tell the whole story.

    The few progressive hosts are not going to be helpful, either for they too have their own bias too.

    I appreciated this information. It was a reminder that what the president had said 18 months ago, he was doing.

  6. And precisely what Obama campaigned on.

    What would have been humorous if it wasn’t so pathetic was the number of people at the Orange Site who said that Obama had campaigned on exactly the opposite.

    If ever a campaign promise has been fulfilled, this is it. He always said he would draw down Iraq and put smart resources into Afghanistan. Gen. Eaton on Countdown Monday night said that there had been signficant shift to a counter-terrorism policy in Afghanistan, that had been absent when it was Bush’s war. Can you effing believe the breadth of that incompetence?

    I had also heard yesterday that the surge had been even more effective than originally planned. My complaint with this administration — could have sent this message out? Bush declared the Iraq surge was a success before the first extra troop set his foot on the ground. I consider myself pretty engaged politically and I didn’t know about the success of the surge in Afghanistan. I had to say it three times to my husband who assumed it hadn’t worked. And he’s a liberal, for God’s sake!

    Background noise, people: fill the background noise with “the Afghan surge is a success.” I just don’t get it.

  7. Good Morning BWD family.

    We just watched Good Morning America out here in California. The report on the Presidents decision was positive. Even Matt Lauer stiffled his smarmyness. Chuck Todd reported that Congress was quietly supportive, and at the end Tom Brokaw praised the President’s decision. They had a video clip of the President’s speech and facts and it was very positive.

    This is a god way to start the day

  8. The NYT editorial today is saying something similar. The president is so smart and so persuasive, why isn’t he doing this more often? I guess it’s their version of the PL’ “use the bully pulpit” scream – But I can’t say that I disagree. Whenever he speaks to the people, they get a clear, honest and logical picture. He’s just not doing it nearly enough.

  9. I agree whole-heartedly. The professional left that are suddenly claiming to be President Obama’s base when most of them were “never” even his supporters, is disgusting. (especially with some of them being supposedly “former” Republicans)

    That ramping up of the fake outrage to garner more blogs hits is great for attracting attention and/or more profit. It’s not so great for spreading voter enthusiasm and electing more Democrats. Since their whining and divisive method hurt in ’10, I must assume that with their repeating it that they could care less about the outcome of upcoming elections. (it’s more profitable to be outraged with the Republicans in power for many of them anyway, it’s all the $$$)

  10. I think it comes down to President Obama not wanting to be seen as a War President, and that beating his chest about successes in Afghanistan might hurt his broader goals in the Middle East.

  11. You know they DID send the message out. No one was listening….all distracted with Palin, and PL outrage……Furthermore I heard on SEVERAL weekly radio addresses prior to November 2010 PBO calling out the GOP for obstructing the recovery purely for political purposes He said it again while he was campaigning. There was no one out there to amplify that message. No Dems, no one in the media. They were either scared or bought. I was in the crowd at a rally In Ohio when he talked about it ..I heard with my own two ears.

  12. Rachel can just borrow the speech that I heard KO did for our President the other night. Why in the hell are all of these TV personalities turning into pompous and presumptious asshats? I’ve felt that MSNBC is running to the fringe at night lately so I won’t watch any of them. Couldn’t we have at least one cable station with some news delivered rationally?

  13. President Obama was focused on the Afghanistan drawdown, but I was thrilled when he made the comments below about the ECONOMY and JOBS while he had the attention of the nation without the media filter:

    Above all, we are a nation whose strength abroad has been anchored in opportunity for our citizens here at home. Over the last decade, we have spent a trillion dollars on war, at a time of rising debt and hard economic times. Now, we must invest in Americaโ€™s greatest resource โ€“- our people. We must unleash innovation that creates new jobs and industries, while living within our means. We must rebuild our infrastructure and find new and clean sources of energy. And most of all, after a decade of passionate debate, we must recapture the common purpose that we shared at the beginning of this time of war. For our nation draws strength from our differences, and when our union is strong no hill is too steep, no horizon is beyond our reach.

    America, it is time to focus on nation building here at home.

  14. Thanks BWD: I keep saying that PBO thinks , listens and ask questions before he makes any decisions.
    He is extremely smart man, his mind is working 24/7 , so whatever the naysayers are saying, just do not pay attention and trust this man, and let’s stop talking about the other side. and let’s spend our energy on PBO.

  15. Yes he was, and yes he did…

    But, PBHO *IS* a multi-tasker… ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Just think if that had been McShame…YUCK!

    YES.WE.CAN…DO.(Much)More, Together!
    I’M IN…FIRED UP & GOIN’! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  16. JOvie Thanks; this is good news it will be a great help for the working people.

  17. Exactly maggy. I don’t buy this WH messaging sucks (dems OTH are a different matter). How many of you even watch his weekly addresses ? I read most of them and I have found him to be consistent with his messaging.

  18. Live now on CSPAN3 hearing on Afghanistan & Pakistan with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

  19. Truth-tellin’ and thanks…

    Hopefully, WE won’t be watchin’ her.

    I know I won’t be doin’ that! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    YES.WE.CAN…DO.(Much)More, Together!
    I’M IN…FIRED UP & GOIN’! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  20. I read the link, Faith. I think Stephen Daugherty is one of the most cogent commenters on that site, which is probably why he gets so little attention.

  21. One evening a Native American elder told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, “My son, the battle is between two ‘wolves’ inside us all. One is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, and superiority. The other is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth and compassion.” The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf wins?” The elder simply replied, “The one you feed.”

  22. Yesterday, Shumer and Durbin publicly accused the repugs of purposely trying to sabotage the recovery. How many msm outlets mentioned this? It’s hard to get your message out when you are ignored. An maggy is correct PBO has been talking about this but no one listens.

  23. Hi BWD,

    I was looking at this video of a couple on So You Think You Can Dance last night and they did a routine that was about a soldier coming home from Afghanistan and seeing his wife for the first time. I thought it was a fitting tribute after President Obamaโ€™s speech to the nation last night.
    Very emotional dance.

  24. MSNBC has been turning into an anti-Obama all the time station. I don’t know what their plan is. Even Rachel seems to have a love affair with Huntsman. They just want repugs back in charge of the country. It would be nice if we had one cable station for new and sanity.

  25. Scary consistent. The people who think the opposite are disingenuous, lazy and some are down right fraudulent. Because if they want to prove that he has been anything but, they would go back to his speeches, and give us those quotes where he said the opposite of what he is doing. All they do is spout out immaculate fibs.

    I may be wrong, but I honestly believe that for many of these loud mouths, it all about the Benjamins. The more they attack the president, the more they draw that group that will agree with nothing this president has done. The louder they get, the more clicks, translating into advertishing dollars for them. Look at some of the people on those sites who will acknowledge absolutely nothing about the progress in the LGBT community, for example. Every time he does something, they move the goal post. I have little patience or respect for that bunch

  26. It’s all about doubloons africa. Their role models are racist pigs like klannity, limpaugh et. al. who rake in millions while not doing a honest day of work in their entire life. Only in amurikkka.

  27. I love pmcarpenter. I noticed yesterday in all of the hysteria on Tweety’s show they all seemed to forget that Bush was president for 8 years. The war magically appeared when PBO was elected. It would be nice if these talking heads would have actual policy experts on to discuss something as important as the war rather than other talking heads who sound like they are at a cocktail party.

  28. Voter turnout matters, though. Democrats have a chronic problem getting people to vote in mid-term elections. This isn’t new. But voter turnout in 2008 for the Radical Left (Nadar) was 738,720. They aren’t going to do significantly more than that in 2012 either. That’s not even enough to garner even one electoral vote. The Radical Left might be really good at getting hits and making money for certain individuals, but they suck at electoral math.

  29. Anyone with a heart and compassion for our fellow man and woman wants this war, ALL wars, to end TODAY. But the reality and complexity of war doesn’t make those dreams come true. President Obama has given us hope, where there was none, that ending U.S. military actions in Afghanistan is on the horizon. He kept his Dec. 2009 promise of withdrawing troops in 18 months… and in June 2011, exactly 18 months later, he has fulfilled that promise. So there is no doubt in my mind that everything he declared last night will be followed through.

    I don’t think enough people understand how much easier it is to start and continue a war than it is to end it. The POTUS wants to end the war “responsibly”… a concept that the Republicans know very little to nothing about in ANY context. And I’m sure that he wants to make sure that our heroic soldiers have something to come home to besides their friends and family in an economy that is purposely being stagnated by Republican legislative sabotage in order to ruin “him” and profit from the pain felt by the American people.

    I’ve been on Huffington Post for about a year and the blatant disrespect for this President can get vitriolic. But me and my friends and fans are holding it down by explaining to many of the right wing and “some” fake Progressive haters that THIS is what “competent leadership” looks like when they have no point of reference. This President deserves more respect than he’s given on ALL fronts for being vigilant and strong and most of all, compassionate to the needs of the American people. So I think I safely speak for me and all his “true” supporters by saying, “Don’t worry Prez Obama, we’ve got your back and you back is got”. And we also know that the magic number is “24” in 2012… 24 more Democrats in the House to give you a Democratic majority in Congress again so you can finish what you started in your 2nd term as seemlessly as possible. Did I say “24”, let’s try to make it “54” just to make sure. ;>)

  30. I think it comes down to him saying that he has to be careful about what he says because when he speaks things happen (stock market, etc.). This less-is-more strategy suits me personally because if were out there talking all the time, people would tune him out. But he is careful about when he addresses the general public. And he keeps it to the point, which I think people appreciate. The Press might want more, that’s their job. It’s his job to make sure things work, not crow about it. That’s for the campaign trail, not the course of day-to-day governing. I like it that he plays his cards close to the vest with regard to the military and foreign policy. One of the things about killing OBL that I admired the most was that he never let on, even to his wife, that that operation was under way.

  31. I agree with you completely. I’m sorry, the President can’t have a primetime address every time the republicans and rouge dems pull some bullshit, which is essentially what a lot of the “messaging” complaints come down to. We know that the core problem is primarily that the media really doesn’t want to hear about any of that, and is aggravated by the fact that we simply don’t have enough effective Dem spokespeople who will consistently go out there and promote the messages that President Obama constantly send out without getting in some of their own potshots and just grandstanding in general.

  32. Silly me, I forgot the TV people know every thing. I wanted to slap that smug expression off of Eugene Robinson’s face.

  33. Thanks, WiW. That type of media attention is way more significant than 100 Rachel Maddows as far as the audience reached.

  34. That’s ridiculous. If you commit troops and take what political hit that entails, how do you not report on the mission’s success or failure?

    The President must be mindful of the politics here at home and strike a balance. There is no reason why the vast majority of Americans had no idea that this mission had been successful.

    “war’ President or “peace” president, the two are intrinsically entwined. You give the military a mission, there is no downside to letting Americans know that it worked. There will be no long term peace in the Middle East without Democrats figuring out how to stay the hell in office.

    This President should know how to inform the people without looking like a puffed up peacock.

  35. Thanks, bwd. From you, this means a lot. I know I’ve been unpopular here sometimes but I just want this President to succeed and I see dire consequences if Democrats don’t learn how to effectively communicate their successes.

    We don’t have time to waste anymore. This administration and the DNC should be good at this.

  36. If the message isn’t getting through then something has to be done to fix that.

    Every elected Democrat should know how to frame the message for maximum impact. I have not watched a ton of coverage today, but Keith Ellison today had the right frame that encompasses as many supporters as possible: He started by saying that the announced withdrawal was a good start, more than we’d hoped but we’d like to see it better.

    Every Democrat needs to first acknowledge that progress is being made, no matter what the topic. Highlight the successes, blame Republicans for stopping progress, and then, yes — say we want things to be much better.

    They will NOT get better by Democrats buying into Republican memes, thinking (after all these years) that if they give Republicans credit for something, they will get credit in return. All that happens is that Republicans get credit. Sheesh.

    As you all know, I still go to the Orange Site to fight the Good Fight. My latest line is that I will accept their frustration as long as they acknowledge the successes achieved. That we cannot afford to kick anyone out of the Good Fight because that kind of poisonous divide will destroy us.

    There should be a healthy debate on the Afghan withdrawal, with the other side and amongst ourselves. I think it’s naive to just pull everyone out of Afghanistan and leave a complete vacuum. Yes, I completely acknowledge that the war has not been worth the loss of life and treasure. But will pulling out completely and immediately cause more harm than good? Let’s have the discussion, respectfully.

    But first and foremost out of every elected Democrat: acknowledge the good FIRST, lay blame on Republicans for causing the mess in the first place and then we talk about making it better.

    Republicans have been doing that for 40 years and have changed what Americans believe. We have to do the same and for God’s sake we have truth on our side.

  37. I’m hearing it more and more, frankly. There is something better happening with DWS and Steve Israel in DNC leadership. I’m seeing the effectiveness of the message change.

    The perfect example is revenue increase. For months I beat my head against a wall because Democrats were not saying that revenue increases were necessary for debt reduction. They started doing it about 6 weeks ago and I’m seeing it repeated more and more, even creeping into the mouths of people like Andrea Mitchell. Say it enough, it gets repeated. Now it’s assumed that Democrats have said that there must be revenue increases (which are extremely popular) and the Repubs are on the defensive about not even closing tax loopholes in order to keep their ‘no tax’ pledge. How about governing? I’m seeing a change in discourse.

    The minute Eric Cantor took his marbles home, Harry Reid was calling him out for being a petulant child and taking his marbles home.

    We are now seeing the idea that without increases in revenue, do deficit reduction talks are serious. By that meme catching hold we have shone a light on Republican obstruction.

    We have to be careful, too, to not be black and white in our thinking. I don’t expect the President to give a prime time address every time we need to get a message through. In fact, I want just the opposite: I want congressional Democratic leadership, the DNC and in my dreams, a left wing punditry that can plant the seeds of progressive ideas and return us to true American ideals. I for one, celebrate every small move in the right direction I see. I’m seeing it in deficit reduction perception. This is how we re-build.

    I know there was some discussion here about Pelosi’s statement about Afghanistan. I frankly thought she walked a decent line, encompassing as many of our base as possible. This is effective.

  38. I think what the Dems are finally figuring out is how to give the media what it wants — which is conflict, which increases eyeballs, which brings in ad revenue — without stabbing the president in the back. Too many still can’t walk this line — Kucinich? Gutierrez? — but what I hope is that more and more will learn.

    I have to disagree with you about Nancy Pelosi’s statement, though. I think it did veer a bit over the line into an expression of slight disappointment. She could’ve phrased it better so as to support PBO more fully, while still saying more had to be done — and, oh, more had to be done because the GOP royally screwed up this war. Earlier in the thread that point was made: praise the progress, but say more had to be done because PBO was cleaning up the previous administration’s mess. But, baby steps, baby steps.

  39. Oh that’s rich. I’m guessing the Consumers who get their produce from Georgia will now be made to suffer because of these bigots. Poetic justice indeed.

  40. Because they have to justify their existence. High ratings make them think they are more important than they really are…turn them off.

  41. Oh to be an expert. These people never saw a subjet matter they didn’t know how to analyze. Whether it is health care, the economy, climate change, dog catcher, you name it, they have an opinion on it. And you know what they say about opinions.

    Go figure.

  42. From the minute the surge in Afghanistan was even discussed, the MSM decided that it would be “Obama’s war”.

    A war he didn’t start. A war that was mismanaged by rank incompetence for 7 years.

    So Obama can “own” the success of the surge. He can own pushing a severe blow to al-Qeda. He can own pushing the Taliban back. He can own fixing Bush’s mess.

    How about that for a meme from an alleged ‘liberal’ pundit, Eugene Robinson? Huh? How about the best way to bring our soldiers home is because they have done an effective job at curtailing terrorism in the Mideast?

    Because if, God forbid, this President had done your bidding, Eugene Robinson, and things inflamed in the region, you’d take responsibility for it, wouldn’t you?

  43. Isn’t it amazing they can give expert analysis on any subject? Most of us mere mortals are only experts in our own fields, and that is with continuing education. We need to keep up in our own fields since information changes. They must get some great education at those Washington cocktail parties that the President doesn’t attend! I guess that is why they know so much more than him.

  44. Hi donna,

    Thanks, yes it is…

    Very appropriate, I likey!

    I *love* all your self-produced vid clips you post at TOD! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    On this particular project, your expert help would be appreciated…

    WhatIsWorking *WAS* “lookin’ for you” to help in puttin’ together some vid clips for a project she’s workin’ on! lol

    what IS working: Your daily shot of hope and encouragement


    And, you’re able to find those “hidden treasures.”

    By the way, I hope you’re feelin’ better!

    YES.WE.CAN…DO.(Much)More, Together!
    I’M IN…FIRED UP & GOIN’! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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