Few pundits are thrilled
with the Afghanistan war strategy President Obama laid out Tuesday night. Especially unpopular
is his timetable for drawing down troop levels beginning in July 2011.
Conservative worry it will encourage the Taliban to
"wait out" our departure; liberals worry that Obama will drag his feet
and protract pulling out troops. Foreign Policy's Marc Lynch,
typically a supporter of Obama's, shares both concerns. But Lynch goes a step further and tells his fellow skeptics
what they can--and should--do.
I believe that Obama and his team really want things to work out this
way, and have carefully thought through how to work it. But when
things don't go their way, will they really follow through on their
promises to draw down? Few people believe that. And if they don't
believe it, then the mechanism of pressure doesn't operate. So it seems
to me that the best way for skeptics such as myself to help this
strategy to succeed is to keep a sharp focus on the proposed mechanisms
of change, demanding evidence that they are actually happening, and to
hold the administration to its pledges to maintaining a clear time
horizon and to avoiding the iron logic of serial escalations of a
Generating domestic pressure to make his commitments on a time horizon
and this not becoming an endless series of futile escalations credible
will be one of the most important things which Obama's skeptical
supporters can do over the next year. And Obama clearly understands
Complaining about what the Commander-in-Chief should have done is a favorite pundit pastime. But Lynch reminds us that Americans
in general and pundits in particular play a very real role in shaping
policy. Rather than just accept as a foregone conclusion that Obama will fail to follow through on the timetable, Lynch insists we can hold him accountable--and that this, indeed, may be part of the
Want to add to this story? Let us know in comments
or send an email to the author at
mfisher at theatlantic dot com.
You can share ideas for stories on the Open Wire.