President Obama has finally announced his plan to withdraw from Afghanistan:
Under the plan, outlined by Mr. Obama in the Rose Garden, the United States would leave 9,800 troops in Afghanistan after 2014, but cut that number by half in 2015. By the end of 2016, it would keep only a vestigial force to protect the embassy in Kabul and help the Afghans with military purchases and other security matters.
That’s fine. The part that’s going to be hard to take is the inevitable knee-jerk bellowing it provokes from the McCain/Kristol faction. What’s it going to be this time? America losing its standing in the world? A lack of guts from a weak-kneed president? Emboldening our enemies? Well, here’s Rip van McCain:
The President’s decision to set an arbitrary date for the full withdrawal of U.S. troops in Afghanistan is a monumental mistake and a triumph of politics over strategy…..Today’s announcement will embolden our enemies and discourage our partners in Afghanistan and the region. And regardless of anything the President says tomorrow at West Point, his decision on Afghanistan will fuel the growing perception worldwide that America is unreliable, distracted, and unwilling to lead.
Got it. How about Rip van Kristol? He doesn’t seem to have weighed in yet, but here’s Gary Schmitt subbing in for Kristol at the Weekly Standard:
The decision to halve and then zero out those forces by 2016 is a reminder not only of how seriously unserious this president on strategic matters can be but also how cynically partisan he is….I suppose if there is any positive thing that might come out of the president’s ploy it’s that conservatives will get to see pretty quickly which of the GOP contenders in 2016 has a strategic backbone.
There you have it: no cliche left unturned. We’re emboldening our enemies. America is unwilling to lead. Obama is unserious about national security. Conservatives need to stand up and show some backbone. It’s as if these guys jerked awake after ten years and started reciting whatever anti-liberal boilerplate happened to be most recently on their minds.
I guess it’s nice to know that some things never change, regardless of facts on the ground. After 13 years (!), we still haven’t stayed in Afghanistan long enough. I’m pretty sure that it could be 2114, and the McCain crowd would continue to insist that if we just gave it a few more years we could finally wipe out the Taliban once and for all.
UPDATE: I just caught a few minutes of Kristol on Crossfire. He usually keeps his cool pretty well, but not this time. He was hot, hot hot. From memory, a few of his comments were “unbelievably irresponsible,” “Obama has sent tens of thousand of troops there and now he’s making their sacrifice in vain,” and “what’s the lesson for anyone around the world who wants to stand with us?” It’s the cliche trifecta!