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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Does "finish the job" mean 34,000 more troops?

John Nichols ("The Nation") on Obama's Afghanistan plan:
President Obama plans to formally announce on December 1 his decision with regard to the request from some of his more ambitious generals for a massive troop surge in Afghanistan.

But indications are that the president who was elected to set a new course for the nation when it comes to foreign policy will instead "stay the course" set by his quagmire-prone predecessor.

Obama announced Tuesday that he plans to "finish the job" in Afghanistan, and there is a growing consensus that he will agree to dispatch roughly 34,000 U.S. troops to the country.

The president says he plans to use his December 1 "finish-the-job" speech to signal "resolve to the allies while not signaling open-ended commitment to the American people."

Translation: There will be talk of an exit strategy -- with reassuring references to "benchmarks" and "off-ramps" -- but no exit strategy.

Obama indicated on Tuesday that he plans to expend a good deal of political capital to promote what is effectively becoming his war. "I feel very confident that when the American people hear a clear rationale for what we're doing there and how we intend to achieve our goals, that they will be supportive," he said.

But there is likely to be significant resistance to what many Americans -- some of whom serve in Congress -- see as a plan to steer the country deeper into a quagmire.
--from "Obama's 'Finish the Job' Talk Sets Stage for Afghan Troop Surge" by John Nichols (11/24/2009).

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