Time for Obama to step up to the plate
The time to govern has now come. President Obama has some very major decisions to make. General Stanley McChrystal has requested thousands more U.S. troops to stave off a rejuvenated Taliban in Afghanistan. If Obama chooses to fulfill the request he is committing to the war. If he ignores the request he will risk losing the contest and facing severe criticism from Republican challengers in 1012.
President Obama does not have an unlimited amount of time to decide what to do about Iran. Last week he threatened to "negotiate". Of course, he realizes that negotiations can go on for months and even years and this plays toward Iran's need for more time to develop nuclear weapons.
As Obama is trying to decide whether to continue the conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan and risk yet another conflict in Iran he must also be considering the overall costs of war. Iraq alone has cost 4,000 Americans lives, 30,000 wounded and over a $1,000,000,000,000.
If Obama commits to Afghanistan he actually contradicts his own anti-American sentiment. He will be telling the world that America can do what the Russians, the British and Alexander the Great all failed to do: conquer the "graveyard of empires", Afghanistan. He also risks alienating his dovish liberal base.
The cost of the war could be prohibitive. We spent $50,000 per year to support every soldier that fought during WWII. It is costing us $750,000 per year to support each individual soldier in Afghanistan. We've already invested eight years with not a lot to show for it. I wouldn't think that the money issue would affect Obama's decision. Our economy is bankrupt but Obama is spending money at unprecedented rates.
If Obama commits to Afghanistan I think it would be necessary to redefine the mission. We originally went there to capture Osama bin Laden. After eight years its pretty obvious we'll never find him in the mountainous terrain, or he has already died of kidney failure or he has moved across the border to hide in Pakistan with al Qaida.
Obama's domestic policies have not proven to be smashing successes. Is not the healthcare reform bill dead in the water? As Obama begins wading into the waters of foreign policy don't expect him to walk on water. He's beginning to look like Samson with a butch haircut.