So now two presidents in the space of less than three years have bucked overwhelming conventional wisdom, as well as public opinion, and decided that they did not want to lose a war. And what lonely decisions these have been. Perhaps the most disturbing thing about the last few years has been the stunningly large number of American thinkers, strategists and pundits who have been perfectly prepared to lose wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan. People talk about American decline these days, but it is not in the basic measurements of national power that American decline is to be found. It is in the willingness of the intellectual and foreign policy establishments to accept both decline and defeat.There is a new doctrine out there that seems to enjoy enormous cache among the smart foreign policy set: fight wars until they get hard, then quit. Vice President Biden seems to be a leading proponent of this approach. While a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Biden backed the Iraq War and spent the first few years after 2003 rightly calling on the Bush administration to send more troops. But when Bush finally wriggled himself free from the disastrous strategies of Donald Rumsfeld, Biden declared the situation hopeless and called instead for breaking up Iraq into three pieces. He then proceeded to oppose the very troop increase he had so long, and so courageously, fought for. And, of course, in opposing the surge, he had the whole foreign policy establishment on his side, epitomized by the wise people of the Baker-Hamilton commission.Many Bush supporters like to point to that president’s enormous courage in turning against the prevailing winds, disregarding not only the advice of the foreign policy establishment but of many of his own top advisers and much of the Republican party, which in early 2007 was perfectly prepared to quit Iraq to save their political skins.But now we see President Obama doing much the same thing, turning against a majority in his own party, resisting the counsel of Biden and the wise men to head for the exits from a war that they had long supported.
Robert Kagan: Obama’s Lonely Decision, Washington Post
Jacob Laksin is a senior writer for Front Page Magazine. He is co-author, with David Horowitz, of The New Leviathan (Crown Forum, 2012), and One-Party Classroom (Crown Forum, 2009). Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @jlaksin.