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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Thomas Friedman's "What's Second Prize?"

In an editorial entitled "What's Second Prize" in today's New York Times, Thomas Friedman takes the position that Obama should never have escalated the Afghanistan War. Mr. Friedman writes:

"The three questions he needed to ask about Afghanistan were almost childlike in their simplicity. Yet Obama either failed to ask them or went ahead, nevertheless, because he was afraid he would have been called a wimp by Republicans if he hadn’t."

Now consider the following from a New York Times editorial, "Mr. Obama's Task", dated November 18, 2009:

"Mr. Obama was right to conduct a sober, systematic review of his options."

Also consider the opinion of a New York Times editorial, "The Afghanistan Speech", dated December 1, 2009:

"In his speech Tuesday night, President Obama showed considerable political courage by addressing that pessimism and despair head-on. He explained why the United States cannot walk away from the war and outlined an ambitious and high-risk strategy for driving back the Taliban and bolstering the Afghan government so American troops can eventually go home."

In short, Obama's catastrophic decision to escalate the U.S. presence in Afghanistan was not hurried (quite the opposite), and it was not because he was afraid of being called a wimp by Republicans (he had the backing of the editorial board of The New York Times, which is anything but Republican).

The reasons for Obama's tragic error lie elsewhere, and it will be for future historians to analyze the makings of this tragic mistake.

Meanwhile, it can only be hoped that the president can conjure the courage to acknowledge his mistake and remove U.S. forces from this quagmire as quickly as possible. Regrettably, courage is a commodity that has been lacking at the White House, and decisions from the Obama administration never come quickly.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, Jeffrey

    Did Friedman himself ask these three questions before? Probably, not. How did he became so smart suddenly?

    There was no support for stopping the war. Not among public, not among elites. Our elites have more important problem: what will be the next position of Mrs. Clinton?