An anonymous Pakistani "security official" was quoted by the New York Times today as saying that Obama's exit date from Afghanistan would "have consequences."
When I read that quote, the question that immediately popped into my mind was, "well, yeah, isn't that the point of the exit date?" The second question was, how is this prediction from
and hold on! who exactly is this prediction from again? It's from some anonymous someone which means it may well be from just about anybody, no? So how exactly is the prediction from this anonymous "security official" who has a flair for stating the obvious relevant?
The exit date will have consequences. No kidding?
The exit date is calculated to have consequences. For over 8 years, America's commitment to Afghanistan was tepid, insufficient and, puzzlingly, completely open ended. Meanwhile money flowed to Pakistan under the auspices that they were a vital ally in the War Against Terror. The result is a corrupt and largely incompetent regime in Afghanistan. And Islamabad has been complacent toward al Qaeda's and their operations presence in the tribal areas of Pakistan.
Frankly, I've never understood the conservative movements' antogonism toward timetables and deadlines, given all the hay they make of accountability and responsibility. The Republican's argument for the past 8 years has been that an exit date is tantamount to cutting and running and will only embolden our enemies, the only new angle is that the nameless, faceless "Democrats" who are weak and naive on terror and who have neither resolve nor spine have been replaced with Obama's name and face. But what about expecting our allies to fulfill their obligations? I just don't understand the mindset that it is preferable to cower in fear because someone thinks our actions might somehow embolden our enemies, than it is to raise the expectations we have for our allies.
Back to the Times story linked to above.
The story hangs on the premise that Afghan and Pakistani officials are "rattled" by Obama's having set an exit date for the troops. It includes the thoughts of "many" Afghan or Pakistani "officials," who speak ominously about the implications of the exit date. It also includes the skeptical thoughts and concerns of American "politicians, analysts and media commentators," regarding Obama's exit date. It's an awful piece of journalism. It's mostly rumor and insinuation dressed up as news, and it's prominence conveys the impression that Afghan and Pakistani concerns are similar to the attacks of Obama's domestic opposition.
Now to be clear, I'm not positing a bias of whatever kind from the Times. I suspect the culprit is lousy reporting, that focuses on the spectacle and strategy of politics rather than the hard realities facing the modern world. That's too bad.
There's not much surprising that the corrupt Karzai government is "rattled" at the prospect of having to take responsibility for the country. I'm sure it's far less disconcerting to simply outsource those concerns to America. Ditto, for Pakistan. I'm sure they'd rather not have to spend the billions of dollars given to them the past eight years on actually fighting al Qaeda and other extremists. Far from being newsworthy, I I think getting "rattled" is a rather predictable consequence of being told they had to accomplish something.
And what more proof do we need that Obama's Republican critics simply do not understand foreign affairs than we have by simply looking back at the past 9 years? Under Republican leadership and strategies, Osama bin Laden escaped into Pakistan, the US paid Pakistan billions in aid while Pakistan did nothing significant to hinder bin Laden's network. They prematurely pulled far too many of the troops out of Afghanistan in order to invade Iraq on bad intelligence at best and a criminal lark at worst. Their invasion created a new safe haven for terrorists. We've known for years that al Qaeda did not operate in Iraq until after the war. They've got nothing but egg on their face. They've been nothing but wrong. And it isn't news when they trot out the same tired old canard they've stubbornly relied and insisted on to such devastating consequences.
The reality is, the exit date is about accountability and responsibility.
The exit date says to me that Obama is serious and expects the same from seriousness from our "allies."