He campaigned on it, primarily because by making such a big issue of his non-support for the decision to go to war in Iraq, and his opposition to the Surge, he needed something that would make him appear strong enough to defend the national interest.
He got Afghanistan, I've come to think, either directly or indirectly from Joe Biden, who has always thought we should be there in force, going mano e mano through the caves of Tora Bora looking under rocks for bin Laden.
It made great sound bites: We took our eye off the ball and The real frontline on the war on terror is in Afghanistan or ever I will order drone strikes across the Pakistani border.
Today, President Obama officially made this his war, following up the 17,000 additional combat troops he's already started in motion there with 4,000 trainers from the 82nd Airborne, a new legion of civilian advisors and technicians, pleas to NATO for more troops, and promises of billions more in aid and support:
WASHINGTON (AP) — Grappling with a war gone awry, President Barack Obama plans to send thousands more U.S. forces into Afghanistan, hoping to hasten the end of a conflict that still has no clear end in sight.
Obama on Friday will announce a multitiered strategy that banks heavily on world help and invigorated U.S. diplomacy. The Afghanistan war, which Obama calls adrift, is now his, and a central part of the new strategy is to build up the Afghan army....
Obama plans to send in 4,000 more U.S. military troops, whose mission will be to train and expand the Afghan army to take the lead on counterterrorism. He also plans to send in hundreds more U.S. civilians to help the people of Afghanistan rebuild their nation.
Those forces are on top of the 17,000 extra combat troops that Obama has already approved....
Obama's plan will also cost many more billions of dollars. His officials said Thursday night that they did not yet have a specific budget figure tied to the strategy....
Roughly 65,000 international forces are in Afghanistan, more than half from the U.S.
One part of Obama's plan is to expose fractures in the Taliban in hopes of weakening it.
Obama officials say the most difficult part of their approach will be in dealing with Pakistan, an often chaotic place with an erratic relationship with the United States. The administration will seek to bolster the democratic government of Pakistan, and try to get the people of that country to see the U.S.-led effort as one that is in their interests.
Now first take a look at this map:
Notice three things:
1) Afghanistan is a land-locked nation, and all our supply routes lead through--at best-questionable territory. Sustaining 65,000 combat troops in Afghanisation will cost more than supporting twice that number in Iraq. I did a detailed analysis of that here. Hell, not satisfied with sending supplies overland through Vlad Putin's Russia, we're even asking China and Iran to provide us supply lines. Everybody to whom this arrangement makes sense, raise your hand so I can come to your desk and smack it with a ruler.
2) The potential theater of war in Afghanistan and northern Pakistan is actually larger than the operational area of Iraq, but far less well provided with roads and the infrastructure that a heavy commitment of troops requires. It is one thing to send SEAL teams and Rangers into the mountains, quite another to construct base camps for combat brigades that are heavily dependent on a steady flow of supplies.
3) The Taliban per se has never possessed the military or logistical capability to harm the US or US interests significantly, and--frankly--was never interested in doing so until we invaded. Prior to that they were content to beat women and cut of the hands of people listening to music, but only inside Afghanistan. Al Qaeda is penned up in the region, you say? Great: what we've done is shown the Islamic world that we're willing to commit tens of thousands of troops for years on end to a futile pursuit of people who will, ultimately, un-ass the area and move in Tajikistan or Indonesia when the going gets too tough.
Now look at the war from Iran's perspective. Another map. You may have to click through to see it all clearly:
Take one look at this map and ask yourself, Why would Iran feel paranoid and in need of nuclear weapons?
We have spent a great deal of time demonizing Iran by quoting inflammatory Shi'a rhetoric, and have somehow managed to accept the idea that Iran's ability to lob a few missiles at Israel (or Poland?) is more significant than the fact that we now have the entire damn country surrounded with military forces.
Why are we there, anyway?
Could it be, could it just be that the Defense industry needs a war, the Federal government needs a war, and all our creditors in China need us to secure the oil and natural gas resources of Afghanistan with military force so that they don't have to?
Yeah: black helicopters, MexAmeriCanada, the CFR, and the John Birch Society, right?
Except that every bit of this analysis can be easily verified through senior defense analysts and retired senior officers who didn't go to work for the defense industry.
A lot of my Libertarian friends believe that President Obama's handling of the economy, healthcare, and global warming are the important issues of the day.
My prediction: by 2010 President Obama will be made or broken by the choices he made in his war.