• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Morning Bell: President Obama Plays Politics in Afghanistan

    The nation’s two highest-ranking military commanders have gone on record raising serious concerns about President Obama’s flawed plan to bring 33,000 troops home from Afghanistan by September 2012. The outgoing Commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus, said during Senate hearings last week that the troop withdrawal was “a more aggressive formulation…than what we had recommended.”

    Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen echoed Petraeus when he noted the danger in moving U.S. troops out of Afghanistan too quickly, saying it will “incur more risk than I was originally prepared to accept.”

    While the President is Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, heeding wise counsel from his most senior military commanders is part of fulfilling that role. The President is under political pressure from his liberal base to withdraw troops and wind down the Afghan war as next year’s election inches closer. His announcement last week reveals he is basing the Afghan troop decision more on the domestic political calendar than the goal of achieving U.S. objectives there.

    Ironically, this hasty drawdown did not even satisfy that liberal base. Members of his own party, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D–CA) and Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D–CA), criticized the pullout as too slow.

    President Obama was right to authorize the surge of 30,000 additional troops into Afghanistan in December 2009, but he needs to allow the majority of surge troops to stay until at least the end of the 2012 fighting season, according to the advice of his military commanders. Petraeus called the coalition’s recent battlefield gains in southern Afghanistan “fragile” and noted that “more force for more time is without doubt the safer course.”

    Outgoing Pentagon Chief Robert Gates has said that waning public support for the war played into the President’s decision-making process. However, Obama made no effort to inform the American people about the potential dangers involved in leaving Afghanistan before the mission is complete. As President, Obama has an obligation to protect U.S. national security and make war-time decisions—based not on public polling but on the long-term interest of protecting the American people.

    President Obama is also seeking to use the killing of Osama bin Laden to justify the accelerated troop drawdown. This is short-sighted. As Heritage policy analyst James Carafano warned:

    Now is the wrong time to take the foot off the pedal in the effort to crush the transnational terrorist threats aimed at the United States and its friends and allies. There is important work for Washington to do to ensure that the likes of al-Qaeda never threaten Americans with the likes of 9/11 again.

    …The long war is not won. The United States and its friends and allies can win, but it requires continued courage and commitment like that demonstrated by American armed forces.

    By pulling troops too soon and leaving Afghanistan in a vulnerable state, President Obama risks allowing the country to return to its status as a safe haven for terrorists intent on attacking America. Instead of squandering the battlefield gains the U.S. has made in Afghanistan over the last 10 months, President Obama should follow the advice of his military leaders to give them more time to solidify progress and achieve U.S. objectives.

    Quick Hits:

    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    52 Responses to Morning Bell: President Obama Plays Politics in Afghanistan

    1. Anne says:

      Every act Obama makes is based on his reelection so that he can continue his work to make this country more socialistic under his control.

      • JRG says:

        "President is under political pressure from his liberal base" (taken from above Heritage report)
        Obama wants to load up American military bases with Trained, hyped for war- type forces, bored by being stuck in the USA bases here at home, with no one to fight & eliminate; therefore the Prezident can prepare to implement & be ready to react to our next major, brewing & oncoming local "CRISIS". Therefore, he can pull out of his stack of prefilled Executive Orders, sign the one that will cancel the next election, because "America's safety & welfare, always comes first!". Border Wars will become a virtual reality and then the opportunity will arise to incarcerate the "unruly" ones, into the "camps" that have been made ready. Government controlled Guards will be needed everywhere and such guards will have to be under direct orders from the Prezident. This performance will definitely appease and please the United Nations & the Elitists and Obama will find favor with the gods of our Times.

      • stevekoko says:


    2. The Farmer says:

      Obama Never plays politics, every move, every word is and attempt on his and his friends parts to distroy America, if one don't see that one will wake up some day and find his country has seased it be!

    3. ThomNJ says:

      obama makes NO decisions based upon what is good for Americans or American troops. His decisions are all ideological and political…or downright selfish. If they actually do harm or exacerbate harm to America – he is even more in favor of it. No surprise from the criminal-in-chief.

    4. Carla says:

      If Afghanistan is this extremely important country to conquer and change and we must remain there, then it is time for a DRAFT! It is terrible that a small group of brave fighting men and women must bear the burden of defeating terrorists. Everyone must have some blood in the game to value the outcome. We cannot continue to send the same troops back there again and again, ruining their lives for the future by what they are asked to do and the injuries incurred. Start the draft now or start reducing troops. Afghanistan will go back to their opium and Taliban whether we leave now or 10 years from now. Their government is corrupt and thus the country will follow. We can never get all the tribes to work as one. They are heavily influenced by outside Muslim countries. Without honest help from Pakistan, we are lost. Use more drones and get the guys out.

      • Perfectlyaged says:

        I agree with Carla. When I see some of our brave men and women who are on their third tour of duty in Afghanistan and they are carrying their heavy back packs in 100+ degrees of heat…I have to cry. Their faces seems so strained. Our young men and women are the future of the United States and they are worthy of great care!!!!

      • Glynnda says:

        How about drafting some of those people sitting up there in DC and their kids…..I like this one Carla!!!!

        • glenn says:

          Not one of Bush, Cheney or their cabinet's children were in the military during that administration, and they started these ridiculous wars.

      • Darn right! Bring on the draft! Frankly it's the only way I can see to rein in the warmongers – and when I say warmongers I'm not speaking as a liberal, let alone a Leftist, but rather I'm speaking as a libertarian-leaning constitutionist conservative. Pat Buchanan and Ron Paul are far more right… as in correct… than the neo-con wing of the GOP. I was raised to believe you don't ask a man to do anything you wouldn't do yourself or ask your son to do. Well, folks, the Afghanistan War through Tora Bora was a war I would have fought or been content to send a son to fight, but the nation-building exercise.. the support of the Karzai mafia… the enriching of private contractors at the expense of the American taxpayer… that's not a policy I support. Knee-jerk "conservatism" is no more defensible than knee-jerk liberalism.

    5. Jim Reinarz says:

      Why would we believe anything this guy says? Let's see if he really does pull out any troops. He hasn't done a thing he says he is going to do except give us Obama care…

    6. toledofan says:

      Our entire foriegn policy is a mess and pulling out these troops quicker than we should is just a disaster waiting to happen. I think that the mission under the Obama administraion has not been clearly defined and he and his administration haven't shown the willingness to fight to win; regardless of the time frame, pulling out before the mission is accomplished is defeat. I sure hope the mission wasn't just to get Osama, if that was the case, Obama can claim a very small victory, but, in the larger context it will be a miserable waste of our precious blood trying to rid the area of the Taliban.

    7. Steve Cafaro says:

      I do not believe you need to be overly concerned about the potential withdawal of toops. Obama is like Bush and his other predecessors who have found value in the permanent presence of American troops in countries around the world. I guess the real question is how long America can afford these extravangences aganst the backdrop of internal economic decline, unprecedented financial deficits and a manipulated money supply.

    8. Conrad vonB says:

      Yea! It would be wonderful if the U.S.A. could bring Human rights, women"s rights, Education, Health Care, Civilized behavior, Freedom, Liberty and on and on to the entire world. "We the people" are flat broke and that is the bottom line. We help everyone and no one lifts a finger to help us. Our credit card has 14 trillion on it, 20% of americans don't work, The war on drugs is lost and costing us 100 billion a year. Almost all of our leadership are self dealing/ serving crooks. The commie/education mafia has destroyed the schools and we are bombing in the mid east for peace! The country has been flushed down the toilet.

    9. Tom says:

      Your commentary is usually very well reasoned, so it's surprising to see you take this stance on Afghanistan. There is absolutely nothing that will be accomplished by staying in that country any longer than is required to make a reasonably safe withdrawal. What do you imagine is going to improve by staying longer in this corrupt, lawless and hopeless part of the world? The answer is nothing. The "safe-haven" argument is baloney, since Yemen, Pakistan and the Saudis will provide support for terrorists whatever happens in Afghanistan. We cannot afford the continued loss of money and lives for no good result. And there can be no good result by spending even one more year there.

    10. BillD says:

      Why would anyone expect President Obama to heed the advice of his senior military commanders? After all he ignored the advice of the Joint Chiefs and Sec Def with regards to Libya.

      • Perfectlyaged says:

        For Obama to heed any advice from his senior military commanders would be against the grain of his very soul. He is the most arrogant, self-centered, self-serving and self-adulating President I have ever seen.
        Obama is such an ignorant inexperienced President who looks for self glory in every move he makes and I feel I am qualified to say that, since I have been a registered and voting democrat for almost sixty years.
        For all my black and latino friends who are planning to vote for Obama again this time…take inventory as to way and for what purpose are you going to vote for Obama and then research, research and find out the truth. Quit using the talking points Obama throws out and prove him without a doubt. Remember, you are not only voting for yourself…but, you are voting for your children and grandchildren!!!! You have a responsibility with your vote!!!!!

        • Glynnda says:

          gosh perfectly…..can you be a little more specific about your perception of him……..very good :)

    11. Bonnie says:

      Don't you understand. He is on the campaign trail. It's Obama first, Americans last. Does this have anything to do with leading from behind?

    12. Curt Krehbiel says:

      "Instead of squandering the battlefield gains the U.S. has made in Afghanistan over the last 10 months, President Obama should follow the advice of his military leaders to give them more time to solidify progress and achieve U.S. objectives."

      But achieving those objectives would require killing more Muslims. Hmmmmm??

    13. Donald McGovern says:

      I think one could make a good argument for not having having put ground forces into Afghanistan in the first place. The U. S. had the capacity to take out Al Qaeda groups by air strikes, drone attacks, and special forces. No matter how long we stay in Afghanistan, that country will revert to what it has always been a lawless country governed by War Lords, tribalism, and corrupt government officials. President Karzai will take his stolen money, his family and flee to another country.

      • azwayne says:

        Now you're hinting at the problem, it's the military industrial complex, it's the wealth maker for congresmen and government officials, the only expense of federal government that makes an economy. Middle east wars are uselss and beyond stupid. It's their way of growing economy, that's all. It's sick we allow our government to do this to our soldiers.

    14. Glynnda says:

      I'm Shocked! Shocked! that this president would use our military as a political tool……did you sense that cynicism? This is the problem when you make a guy who has zero executive experience and zero military experience commander in chief……besides the fact that he is a major lefty……..what did we expect people?

      So he will change his mind and modify this decision as far as it will affect the elections next year…..people we put him in office, we are getting exactly what we deserve. What we must do is keep our heads in the mean time and put someone in office who can deal with this situation effectively. Also, Please God, let the Republicans get a serious spine (okay they are making progress toward evolution out of jellyfish-land) and let him know that he is not going to undermine our efforts over there and put our military personnel in danger without paying dearly for doing it…….Please God take care of our troops while these people play with their lives…..


    15. MNJ says:

      So what does one expect from someone who has rarely, if ever, made a real decision? Now, he's going with his gut – does he even have any real feelings?

    16. West Texan says:

      Does America still have a cold war presence in countries like Germany and South Korea? And what threat does the U.S. face today if they were to pull forces from these nations? But yet our country is engaged in a decisive fight against real evil in the Middle East. And Obama chooses to tuck-tail and run for political gain? Do ya suppose his decision for early troop withdrawal is tainted by a slight conflict-of-interest? He should adhere to his theater commanders advice rather than succumb to mush-mouth left wing loons like Nancy and company.

      • azwayne says:

        Military today, is being used more for social and economic purposes than US's security as constitution demands.

    17. Mary......WI says:

      Even though BO is "commander-in-chief" he should have listened to his military generals becasue those men are on the ground and know what's needed. I believe this was a political stunt by BO……Americans are more attune to BO's games this time around.

    18. Lloyd Scallan says:

      I firmly believe the majorty of Americans now appose to the war due to a total lack of trust in Obama. Again, he provides ample proof with this latest "political" move against the advice of the commanders on the ground. I am against having our young men and women put in harms way for no other reason than poll numbers. I belived when Bush when in beause he had reasons to do so. Ten years later, what is the purpose? What is the end game? Bin Laden is dead. Afghanistan will continue to be Afghanistan long after our trooop's blood has dried, with or without bin Laden. Obama is playing with the lives of our military for political gains. Every day he shows absolutely no reason to trust anything he does of says unless it benefit him politically

    19. Norm LA says:

      This is the same Commander in Chief who set a time limit on his surge. What do we expect ? On a less important note because it does not involve troops on the battlefield, he must have some advisers, albeit one or two from the Harvard crowd, suggesting at least some historically successful economic measures. He does not act on most suggestions. He did act on one suggestion that he must think will help him personally, probably from Bill Clinton, to use the words "our country" in speeches the last few months to portray his care for this country to get some voters. This is not WW11 and the battleship Missouri,[which he envisioned during an interview] but one does not attain victory in war or any major venture without defining what victory or success is before you start.

    20. Jim Buzzell says:

      As retired military I can say that we need to get out of Afghanistan as soon as possible; but that said our exit needs to be coordinated, measure, and well executed not leaving our service personnel in jeopardy. Why to I say we need to leave? In my opinion our original mission was to disrupt al-Qaeda, take away their safe havens, and put them on the run, we have done that; what we are now doing is nation building for a corrupt central government, which means we accept that government. Our soldiers, sailors and marines are putting their lives on the line following someones political false hope that Afghanistan will become a democracy, it aint gonna happen. History is the best judge of that; no one has ever succeed in nation building in that country; it is ruled by Warlords, it is regional, and no central government has ever been successful in Afghanistan. On the surface it may look like we are succeeding with the regional warlords, but, in my opinion, it is illusionary.

      • Norm LA says:

        From a non vet, it seems that way to me too. We are in that regard wasting good men and women, some die, leaving families to mourn and others no matter the modern day medical advances and an unbelievable attitude, have to live their lives without full limbs. It cannot be Iraq, where a semi democratic government was built. Won't the Taliban just comes back to Afghanistan and take over once again, enslaving the people and have a base ?

    21. wes says:

      To endanger this Country over a chance to get reelected is wrong! If Obama would in danger the people of the United States Then HE SHOULD BE A ONE TERM PRESIDENT!!!!!!!!! That said He is are leader and we should respect Him.

    22. RogCol says:

      He has it covered politically. The responsibility for the drawdown is to be placed on the backs of the on the ground commanders, but all dates are to be met. Things go bad, guess who's fault it will be. Typical for a Democrat.

    23. Rod says:

      One of my concerns is our youth seeing this man-child in action and thinking it is normal for a president to be clueless, weak and out of control !!!

    24. Turner says:

      He pulled 10k out to pander to politicos, and he puts the remainder at risk. I heard he would have pulled more, but that would dilute his employment numbers and make him look bad because there are no jobs.

    25. wayne says:

      its time to enlist our new crop of of fighting age Americans (both legal and non)

    26. Kcmaunder says:

      Oh, my! Didn't BHO graduate from all four military academy's and we would have proof if all his records were not sealed. Take him on as he has more smarts, more military experience than all those career military men combined. BHO is the most smart guy in any room. Just ask him. Ane he was giveen the Nobel Peace Prize too for not starting any wars. All that military training is just going to waste while he was passing out door knockers in the poor suburbs of Chicago after he major training for being a community agitator.
      Where did BHO lock up all his medals? God help us.

    27. Dr. Pete Kleff says:

      Sort of makes you long for the good old days of incompetence in Viet Nam…

    28. Ben C. says:

      If this would be a conventional war with defined battle lines such as WWII then leaving prematurely would be a bad idea. The problem is that it is a “gorilla” war with a virtually transparent non uniformed enemy that blends into the civilian population. The enemy is in it for the long haul (decades to centuries) and to think it is winnable is absurd. The best we can do is leave Afghanistan somewhat stable for at least one generation then the ball is in their court. It will take generations for this country to embrace Western civilization and it is their choice, not ours, to make. Our national security is dependant on a robust CIA and FBI, not military deployment in a “stan” country.

    29. F.D. O'Toole says:

      As noted, Obama has one real objective and that is to get re-elected. He loves the perquisites of the job, the Secret Service escort, vacations, Air Force One, the unlimited expense account. He especially loves "spreading it around" to his deserving followers and green industries. He votes "present" on hard decisions so that he isn't responsible for their outcome. He looks up to Europe and its socialistic culture and that's why he joined the Libyan adventure and that's why he is tapping the strategic oil reserve. We have a surplus of oil here in the USA. (Look at the average $15 difference between Brent crude and WTI here in the States). He has no real desire to be in Afghanistan other than the fact that he called it, "the good war" and he doesn't want that thrown back in his face during the election run-up.
      The problem with leaving Afghanistan is that it may not be just the Middle East that views it as a retreat of American power. Check the meeting called by Iran in which leaders from 60 countries are visiting with Amadjinijad today despite strong objections from the State Department. Our money won't buy influence any more and because of the energy policies of this administration, we need their oil if our economy is to function.

    30. Blair Franconia, NH says:

      The politics in Afghanistan goes into downtown Kabul and stands on the corner of P and U Streets.

    31. Ron W. Smith says:

      There's an interesting premise behind Ms. Andersen's blog: terrorism can be defeated. I disagree. As long as we are on Middle Eastern soil and as long as we openly support Israel monetarily, militarily and diplomatically (at the U.N.), there will be terrorism. It's too good a weapon for those who have no alternatives like Cruise missiles, B2 bombers, or remotely controlled spyware with which to express their opposition to our presence and policies. Toe-to-toe with us is out of the question, but terrorism is not and it's cheap as long as there are volunteers.
      Leave Afghanistan now, tomorrow or a year from now, and the minute we're gone what Ms.Anderson reports can happen with too-quick withdrawal happens with slower withdrawal as long as we're felt to be occupiers in the Middle East. Terrorism has all the time in the world to use when and where it can be used. There's no stopping that the way we're going about it. Change that way, and there's hope.
      I've said it before in this space: talk is cheaper, and there's no telling just how effective it will or won't be until we try it. Not talking to our enemies is a mistake that has us bleeding money and losing lives. I say make the talks open to all ears everywhere, and make them open to all who have grievances with what has or hasn't happened in the Middle East. Hidden motives will be exposed and open to debate. Our tough-guy stance and SuperPower on Call status are easily seen as behind our slippage into huge national debt over the years since the late 1950's. If that debt is for other reasons as well, it's in the mathematics to show that there would be no national debt now if we'd gone about our business as a nation defending itself the way other countries do and for far less expense.
      There is no way to control the world that won't run us ever further into debt. And there IS a way to generate good will through wide open discussion and debate, a way to make the foolishly selfish out there look foolishly selfish. And, as for cost, well, let's just say it won't be as much as the $1 trillion + we spend annually on National Security while reducing outlays for Nation Building, Homeland Security, Foreign Aid designed to gain the cooperation of other countries, and, since there will be fewer veterans needing attention, Veterans Affairs. We outspend the rest of the world COMBINED on these.
      Sorry to disagree with Ms. Andersen, but one of the few benefits of being 74 years of age is plenty of hindsight.

    32. Ed Gargasz says:

      You are all being too critical of the President. I'm willing to bet he once read a book that mentioned a war sometime during his life, so he knows better then those dummies in the armed services….after all, he went to Harvard, and knows many professors, community advisors, and politicians!

    33. Donald DaCosta says:

      I remain at a loss as to the definition of the term "win," in all of the wars America is involved with in the Middle East. What are the long term expectations of the politicians in Washington and the military commanders directing the military operations in these wars? What thought, if any, has been given to determining the nature and purpose of the elusive enemy in these conflicts? What thought, if any, has been given to their grievances against us? The reasons most often given by the upper echelon never mention the Islamic roots that are at the very heart of the conflict. Is this a politically correct oversight or do they really not recognize this increasingly evident fact. The enemy make no bones about it, especially in their mother countries. Is anybody paying attention and how is that factored into our strategic planning?

    34. RennyG says:

      Why is everyone talking about what he is doing wrong? Why arn't we talking about what is being done about his wrong doings? He just keeps doing!!!
      We better get on our knees because our only salvation from this person is from the "Lord" above!!

    35. Tom says:

      I would like to see the troops out of the mideast, but we now have to accomplish what we started, or it will be another VietNam, where again, so many of our troops were killed or wounded for the rest of their lives, and all for nothing, by running out of the battle again. What does this show other countries? As far as obama doing the right things, it hasn't happened yet and it never will!

    36. Bob Glidewell says:

      Nancy Pelosi is NOT the Speaker of the House… PTL

    37. zabih says:

      Pulling out the U.S troops from Afghanistan is too soon, and it is too risky for both of the countries.

    38. Greg says:

      28,500 Active Duty Combat Troops guarding Korea's Border.
      1,200 National Guard guarding (??) our Border with Mexico.

      Korean conflict over a long time now… 50+ years.
      How about Germany? Europe bases?
      Japan… I concede a forward presence perhaps…

      Bring em home and put them on our borders.

    39. sports says:

      I just couldn’t depart your web site before suggesting that I actually loved the usual info a person provide to your guests? Is going to be again often to inspect new posts

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.