The Exit-Strategy President – by Alan W. Dowd

USA-POLITICS/OBAMA

Tomorrow’s historians may look back on this period and label it the “age of retreat.” After all, President Barack Obama has set withdrawal dates for U.S. forces from Iraq and Afghanistan, reversed course on missile defense in Eastern Europe and generally embraced a policy of realpolitik over the advance of freedom.

It began with Obama’s announcement in February that “by August 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end.” In other words, Obama has gazed into the future and determined that, no matter what is happening on the ground, America’s mission will be complete on the summer of 2010—and that all U.S. forces will be out of Iraq by 2011.

More recently, after a lengthy re-review of his own policy, the president concluded that “it is in our vital national interest to send an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan,” before promising that “after 18 months, our troops will begin to come home.”

Setting aside the notion that “our vital national interest” has an expiration date, it would seem that letting the Taliban know the U.S. military will end its offensive 18 months from now will not make Gen. McChrystal’s mission any easier. But that’s a subject for another essay.

Bookended by the withdrawal announcements on Iraq and Afghanistan was Obama’s retreat on missile defense. When the Polish government heard the news that Obama had decided not to deploy permanent defenses in Eastern Europe against long-range missiles, a spokesperson for Poland’s Ministry of Defense called the decision “catastrophic for Poland”—and understandably so. After all, Poland and the Czech Republic exposed themselves to Russian ire by agreeing in 2007 to allow U.S. missile-defense bases on their soil. Now that the Obama administration is unilaterally reversing U.S. and NATO policy, these allies are left with questions about where they stand—and Moscow, where everything is viewed through the prism of zero-sum power politics, is left with a sense of victory. This, too, is understandable, given that the administration’s missile-defense reversal has a whiff of quid pro quo. Of course, we are still waiting for the “quo” from Moscow.

We should not overlook Washington’s apparent retreat from freedom’s high ground, either. The sad irony of the president’s cold, muted reaction to the Iranian regime’s brutality during the Twitter Revolution was that it answered his own rhetorical question of a year before, albeit in a manner his supporters would never have imagined. “Will we stand for the human rights of…the blogger in Iran?” he asked during his rock-concert speech in Berlin. Now we know the answer.

Contrast America’s withdrawal from leadership with the words—and even the actions—of French president Nicolas Sarkozy.

From the very beginning of his presidency, he has called Iran “an outlaw nation.” He has warned that if peace-loving countries don’t close ranks, the consequence will be “an Iranian bomb or the bombing of Iran.”

When evidence of a clandestine Iranian nuclear-fuel manufacturing plant came to light in September, it was Sarkozy who challenged America to get serious and take action. Obliquely dismissing Obama’s “dream of a world without nuclear weapons,” he reminded the young president that “we live in a real world, not a virtual world.” With refreshing bluntness, he then detailed the growing dangers in the real world.

“Since 2005, Iran has violated five Security Council resolutions,” he began. “An offer of dialogue was made in 2005, an offer of dialogue was made in 2006, an offer of dialogue was made in 2007, an offer of dialogue was made in 2008, and another one was made in 2009. President Obama, I support the Americans’ outstretched hand. But what did the international community gain from these offers of dialogue? Nothing. More enriched uranium, more centrifuges, and on top of that, a statement by Iranian leaders proposing to wipe a UN member state off the map.”

For good measure, Sarkozy noted that North Korea’s leaders, like Iran’s, “disregard everything that the international community says, everything,” before concluding with a call to action: “There comes a time when facts are stubborn and decisions must be made.”

France may no longer have the capacity to project power the way it once did—and it certainly cannot match America’s clout or military muscle—but Sarkozy is trying to do his part. He has beefed up French contributions in Afghanistan, dragged France back into full NATO membership and launched a military-modernization program. In May, France opened new air force and naval installations in Abu Dhabi, just across from Iran. Sarkozy says the 500-man base, France’s first permanent base in the Persian Gulf, “is a sign to all that France is participating in the stability of this region of the world.”

So, France is talking tough and acting tough, while the United States is preoccupied with exit strategies. That’s not exactly the change most Americans had in mind.

Alan W. Dowd writes on defense and security issues.

  • Proxywar

    “It began with Obama’s announcement in February that “by August 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end.” In other words, Obama has gazed into the future and determined that, no matter what is happening on the ground, America’s mission will be complete on the summer of 2010—and that all U.S. forces will be out of Iraq by 2011.”

    This was bush's time-table Obama is trying to take credit for.

  • Robert Bernier

    Every American should know the truth

    No one should miss this video:

    http://xrl.us/bf29mb

    Look to the end ( 10 min.)

  • suprkufrb

    I simply cannot understand why the United States, my Canada and all other militaries of our western, democratic countries are squandering the lives of our soldiers on this fool's errand. No one has ever explained to my satisfaction what exactly is meant by “winning?” It is my view that whether we throw away the precious young lives of a hundred or a million of our soldiers, the result will be the same – a country ruled by moslems, who hate us and the democratic values we cherish, and are committed to imposing a suffocating world caliphate upon the free peoples of the world.
    Why do we remain so spineless, failing to stand up and denounce such an obvious threat to our tolerant and inclusive countries? Why do we fail to declare to the world the self-evident truth that islam is an evil, misogynous, intolerant and totalitarian belief system which, if ever imposed, would propel society headlong back into the ninth century? When I was a young man, there was no difficulty in
    conveying the truth about the communist threat; what on earth is the problem now
    with doing the same with islam?

  • bushlikesdick12

    There is all this talk that President Bush didn't have an exit strategy for war and that is totally false.

    Please visit this link as I will prove this fallacy very wrong:

    http://politicalhumor.about.com/library/images/

  • bushlikesdick12

    re:

    ~~~Bookended by the withdrawal announcements on Iraq and Afghanistan was Obama’s retreat on missile defense. When the Polish government heard the news that Obama had decided not to deploy permanent defenses in Eastern Europe against long-range missiles, a spokesperson for Poland’s Ministry of Defense called the decision “catastrophic for Poland”—and understandably so. After all, Poland and the Czech Republic exposed themselves to Russian ire by agreeing in 2007 to allow U.S. missile-defense bases on their soil. Now that the Obama administration is unilaterally reversing U.S. and NATO policy, these allies are left with questions about where they stand—and Moscow, where everything is viewed through the prism of zero-sum power politics, is left with a sense of victory. This, too, is understandable, given that the administration’s missile-defense reversal has a whiff of quid pro quo. Of course, we are still waiting for the “quo” from Moscow.~~~Dowd

    Doe's Dowd have some sort of point in this babble?

  • thinker1

    Falsified earth temp. data – no problem, says Bama and MSM.

    During Bush years, MSM asked every day: “what is your exit strategy? Why so many homeless people? Why so many coffins from battlefield?” etc…..
    None of those questions are being asked today.

    BTW – Yo, MSM – can you use softer paper? We could save $$ on toilet paper.

  • thinker1

    “lemme” explain:
    According to our “new military”, we have to “win their hearts and souls”….What a drivel!
    If there is somebody else with a seeking terrorist, we CANNOT take him out! What a joke!
    They cut our caught soldiers to pieces alive then drag those partial corps like total barbarians they are….. A doctor was speechless with horror when he tried – and couldn't – describe heinous acts of those cruel savages.
    When our soldiers caught a guy who killed several of our soldiers, he lied they punched him…and now our brave soldiers are heading for a court martial.
    The word “joke”cannot describe the idiocy of our military “strategy”.

  • USMCSniper

    The anti-war movement has devolved from smug anti-Bushism to the belief that America, its military and allies are at the root of all that ails the world.Obama and the Democratic politicians must move in lock step with the fringe anti-war left or risk being savaged by the “leftist base,” whose demande a withdrawal date from Iraq and now from Afghanistan, ironically, both would provoke massive bloodshed as Democratic politicians did in South Vietnam and cambodia with the funding cutoff.

    It’s high time for the Democrats to prove that they are not, as Senator Joe Lieberman contends, “emotionally invested in a narrative of cut and run, defeat and retreat.

    The American electorate will not put up with the steady stream of vicious attacks against American troops, whose selfless bravery on battlefields across the globe and unwavering devotion to the idea that freedom must prevail serve as an example to all Americans.

  • Joshua

    You mean American Imperialism right? I mean if you thought we were going there to “bring stability to the people” and not to protect the United States oil and natural resource interests then there is no point debating you on this topic…The troops aren't fighting bravely, they are the bullying arm of the American Corporation. I know this for a fact, as I was there and was commanded to do things to innocents that I cannot even imagine, if you weren't in Operation Shock and Awe then you know nothing about this fight…

  • CowboyUp

    Is it not obvious? The point is, hussein's an idiot.

  • CowboyUp

    Lol, they actually said at the time that Vietnam was about oil too. You're full of it If you did things to civilians you don't have to imagine it, you did it. If you were in the military, much less Iraqi Freedom (lol, you can't even remember the name of the operation), you'd know there's no excuse for following illegal orders.

  • bushlikesdick12

    He is babbling about how Poland feels abandoned and Russia feels victorious and that there is expose to be some sort of status quo about all this but doesn't reiterate.

    Exactly what quo is he talking about?

    He then jumps to another subject like some sort of psycotic idiot about Iran but he titles his article exit strategy.

    If he is trying to point out that Hussein is an idiot, then he is obviously acting like an idiot trying to prove he is an idiot.

  • coyote3

    What is your major malfunction? Although I will admit we need to learn as much as we can about other cultures. We need to learn their dislikes, likes, and most importantly their fear, so we can exploit those fear and kill them.

  • coyote3

    You are a liar. I will change that, if you provide your unit name, your name, serial number, branch of service. Provide a factual basis for what you are confessing to, and surrender for your illegal activities