President Barack Obama will reportedly announce tonight that he is going to reduce our current 100,000 troop level in Afghanistan by 30,000 — by November 2012. That date may seem familiar. It is the next election day.
Like many who have been critical of this war, this strikes me a too little and too late. Do not mistake me. I am happy to see a one-third withdrawal, but this would just reduce levels to the personnel levels before the “surge.” No one imagined we would still be in the country, at alone with 70,000 troops, in 2012. We will still be gushing billions of dollars for a country that is openly hostile to the United States and has accused the U.S. of stealing money and destroying their nation.
These numbers will be a mix of combat and non-combat troops. The Pentagon wanted non-combat troops only but Obama at least held the line on that point and ordered some combat troops to be included.
Under the plan, 10,000 troops will be withdrawn by the end of this year. Secretary Bob Gates and Afghan war commander Gen. David Petraeus wanted a drawdown of between 3,000 and 5,000 troops this year — and no combat troops.
However, the public is increasing angry over the wars and polls show a many citizens want to be entirely out of Afghanistan. Nearly three-quarters of Americans polled this month said they support the United States pulling some or all of its forces from Afghanistan. With the unpopularity of the latest war in Libya, Obama is paying a high political price for continuing to spend billions at a time when he is calling for cuts in domestic programs.
The timing of the withdrawal with the November election is remarkably dumb. It conveys a connection between Obama’s political strategy and the war. This war has been grinding on for years despite growing opposition. Yet, the Administration picks November 2012 as when it will finally call for a partial withdrawal. That decision only came after every polls shows the President losing votes on the issue. The appearance is one of a cynical calculation with lives in the balance. This may be unfair and the date is a total coincidence but the optics are perfectly horrible.
44 thoughts on “Obama To Order Troop Reduction — By November 2012”
President Obama’s Terrible Mistake
Posted By Blackfive • [June 23, 2011]
We’re in the same ballpark.
Thursday, Jun 23, 2011 05:24 ET
by Glenn Greenwald
Climate of Fear: Jim Risen v. the Obama administration
For someone who has no real interest in challenging government claims or undermining official actions, these policies will have no direct, perceptible effect. It’s always true that those who are supportive of institutions of authority or who otherwise have no interest in challenging them are never targeted by measures of this sort; why would they be? That’s why supporters of all Presidents — Republicans during the Bush years and now Democratic loyalists under Obama — are rarely disturbed by such developments.
Along with the apathetic, who by definition pose no threat to anyone, prominent cheerleaders for the President and his party, who labor every day to keep them in power, are the last ones who will be subjected to such programs. Obviously, nobody in the Obama administration is monitoring the phone calls at the Center for American Progress or ones placed to the large stable of columnists, bloggers and TV stars who daily spout White House talking points or devote each day to attacking the President’s political opponents. That’s why purported civil liberties concerns manifest only when the other party is in power, but vanish when their own is. Partisan loyalists are indifferent to their leader’s ability to deter dissent; if anything, they’re happy that their party’s leader wields such power and can use it against political adversaries.
But for anyone who is engaged in meaningful dissent from and challenge to government officials — the Jim Risens and other real investigative reporters, the Thomas Drakes and other whistleblowers, the WikiLeaks supporters, the Midwest peace activists — these prosecutions and these ever-expanding surveillance, detention and even assassination powers are inevitably intimidating. Regardless of how those powers are used or even whether they are, they will, as Risen put it, have “a chilling effect” on the exercise of core freedoms. As Risen explained in his Affidavit, even if Brian Ross’ story turned out to be false, the mere claim by anonymous officials that the phone records of journalists are being monitored — combined with threats of prison for their sources and even for reporters who are subpoenaed — means “the Government further contributed to creating an atmosphere of fear for journalists who publish stories about national security and intelligence issues.”
The most odious aspect of this Climate of Fear is that it fundamentally changes how the citizenry thinks of itself and its relationship to the Government. A state can offer all the theoretical guarantees of freedom in the world, but those become meaningless if citizens are afraid to exercise them. In that climate, the Government need not even act to abridge rights; a fearful populace will voluntarily refrain on its own from exercising those rights.
Nobody wants to believe that they have been put in a state of fear, that they are intimidated, so rationalizations are often contrived: I don’t perceive any violations of my rights because there’s nothing I want to do that I’m not able to do. Inducing a fearful population to refrain from exercising rights — as it convinces itself no such thing is happening — is a far more effective, and far more pernicious, means of suppressing freedoms. That’s what a Climate of Fear uniquely enables. The vast National Security and Surveillance State has for decades been compiling powers — and eroding safeguards and checks — devoted to the strengthening of this climate, and the past two-and-a-half years have seen as rapid and concerted intensification as any other period one can recall. Read Jim Risen’s Affidavit if you doubt that.
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