The Democratic National Committee (DNC) took the action that the overwhelming majority of Americans say they want -- a swift and final end to the Afghanistan war.
The action was a resolution authored by California Democrat Barbara Lee calling for a swift withdrawal by this July.
The DNC overwhelmingly endorsed the resolution. Lee and the DNC are on solid ground with the resolution to end the Afghan war. Polls consistently show that Americans consider the war endless, futile and a massive drain on the economy. They want the estimated $100 billion spent yearly on the war to go for job creation, infrastructure repair, education spending and health care expansion.
It's not only the polls and the majority American sentiment that thinks the war is a massive and unnecessary drain. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has also given a nod to troop reduction and a phase out of the war. President Obama has publicly pledged that the U.S. troops will be out of Afghanistan by 2014.
But that's much too long. The DNC resolution reminded the president of that. An accelerated timetable for ending the war is certainly doable, and best of all it poses no political risk for Obama.
But there's a catch -- the view of the president about the war and what it means in terms of U.S. Security. To understand that requires a brief look at how and why Obama has put so much focus on the war.
As a presidential candidate, Obama lambasted the Iraq war, calling it the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time. Even more pointedly, he called it "a dumb war." By contrast, he touted the Afghan war as the right war in the right place. He demanded that George W. Bush fight an all-out, no-holds-bar war against terrorism.
Although candidate Obama did not mention Afghanistan directly in that speech, it didn't take much for voters to connect terrorism to Afghanistan. He clearly saw waging war there of critical importance to U.S. security.
In an August 2007 speech at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, in Washington, D.C., Obama left no doubt that Afghanistan would be his number one priority. He made an impassioned promise to wage what he dubbed the war that had to be won.
Spelling out in minute detail his plan of attack, Obama vowed to drastically increase troop strength; ramp up spending on an array of military-related programs, such as mobile special-forces, pacification teams and intelligence operations; and to beef up military aid to Pakistan. He vowed to take the war to the Taliban in Northwest Pakistan.
Eleven months after his Wilson Center speech, Obama was still only the "presumptive" Democratic presidential candidate. Yet, in a CBS Face the Nation interview the same year, he promised to "finish the job" in Afghanistan.
In his pre-presidential speeches, interviews and comments on the war, Obama massaged his war plan. He promised to set a timetable for eventual withdrawal, get out of Iraq and corral America's European and Middle East allies in a partnership to wipe out the terrorists and their mass destructive weapons. He also vowed to end corruption, hold free elections, bolster Afghan security forces, boost intelligence gathering and monitoring, beef up Afghan security forces, and ensure a stable government in Afghanistan.
Two years after he spelled out that plan, the United States has shelled out more than $200 billion dollars and suffered more than 1,000 dead. Going into his third year in the
White House, this president has not met even one of his goals convincingly.
The huge escalation of U.S. troops involvement and the colossal spending to sustain the build-up was the call made by the Pentagon. But the president has heartily endorsed the troop build-up and spending, measures reinforcing his view that the war in Afghanistan not only had to be fought but could possibly be won.
Instead, that mission hasn't been accomplished, and the sobering reality is a prime factor in Obama's call for the eventual wind down of the war. This no-win reality is an even bigger reason for the DNC to take the rare step into the minefield of an approaching presidential election year by publicly taking the president to task for moving too slowly to get the United States out of Afghanistan.
Obama recognized that the Iraq war was an ugly and shameful page in U.S. history and that millions of Americans were furious and frustrated by it. The same can be said of the Afghan war. The DNC said as much.
Obama can listen and know that a swift wind-down will pose no danger to U.S. security and certainly no political danger to him.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He hosts national Capitol Hill broadcast radio talk show on KTYM Radio Los Angeles and WFAX Radio Washington D.C. streamed on ktym.com and wfax.com and internet TV broadcast on thehutchinsonreportnews.com.
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