For the country, the Afghanistan war was a security necessity. For President Barack Obama and the Democrats, it was a political necessity--a fig leaf to cover their radical anti-war policies. That much is made clear by a sympathetic article in today's New York Times, which describes President Obama's "shift" from a "war of necessity" to a cut-and-run strategy. As usual, our Nobel laureate president is said to have experienced an intellectual "evolution," rather than a political flip-flop--or rather than having lied to the country outright.
The Times article reports triumphantly that Obama cut his generals out of the decision-making process entirely, after his decision to order the "surge" in 2009 was criticized for taking too long and giving the military far fewer troops than it needed to win. According to the Times, the main problem Obama and his White House aides were concerned about was "leaks" from the military--i.e. political damage resulting from revelations of poor decision-making. That led to White House aides--not the generals in the field--making decisions entirely on their own:
A year later [in 2010], when the president and a half-dozen White House aides began to plan for the withdrawal, the generals were cut out entirely. There was no debate, and there were no leaks.
In 2010, according to the Times, Obama decided that the war in Afghanistan was "unwinnable"--even as the surge began, even as he sent more American troops to fight and die for their country (or for him personally, as he put it so revealingly in defending his "evolution" on gay marriage).
The Times confirms that Obama's obsession with his re-election played an important role in the politicized plans for withdrawal from Afghanistan:
After a short internal debate, Mr. Gates and Mrs. Clinton came up with a different option: end the surge by September 2012 — after the summer fighting season, but before the election. Mr. Obama concurred. But he was placing an enormous bet: his goals now focus largely on finishing off Al Qaeda and keeping Pakistan’s nuclear weapons from going astray.
The author of the article is at least honest enough to acknowledge the fact that giving up in Afghanistan could mean the return of the Taliban--and that the administration has no idea what do if it does:
Left unclear is how America will respond if a Taliban resurgence takes over wide swathes of the country America invaded in 2001 and plans to largely depart 13 years later.
It's one thing to listen to your generals and then overrule some of them. It's quite another to cut them out of the process entirely, leaving life-and-death decisions--and the fate of the country's future security--in the hands of political appointees who have little military experience between them and serve at President Obama's whim. And it's disgraceful to cut our NATO allies out of the process--especially when they are fighting and dying alongside our troops.
It's clear that President Obama cares more about being able to tell his far left supporters that he ended their hated war, after all--and less about fulfilling his most fundamental duty as commander-in-chief.