He said he expects two of the meetings to be held the next week but stressed that there is no target date to complete the review. "I don't have a deadline in my mind. I think the most important thing is to do it right. But it is going to have a high priority in the administration to do this pretty relentlessly. We have a lot of other things on the table as well."No hurry--gotta get it right.
Now, according to ABC here is Obama speaking to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation on health care reform:
"We have been waiting for health reform since the days of Teddy Roosevelt. We've been waiting since the days of Harry Truman," he said in remarks at the caucus foundation's annual dinner. "We've been waiting since Johnson and Nixon and Clinton."So health care must be done now without delay, but fighting the enemy that attacked us on 9/11 on the central front in the
"We cannot wait any longer," Obama said.
Hmm. Well, according to the New York Times he's got a few 40 pound brain advisors helping him, like Colin Powell, who's apparently warning him against using the Powell doctrine of overwhelming force to win the fight of our lives. Another brain--although nowhere near 40 pounds--is part of the mix as well. John Kerry, who famously advocated for getting our fight against terrorists back to nuisance level, is also chiming in and urging him to figuratively head for the hills as well. For all we know Kerry just returned from a meeting in bin Laden's cave.
But snark aside, this is a pivotal decision. It's clear (as the Times says) the March strategy was just a knee-jerk based on politics leaving the real decision for later, which is now. From a distance it seems logical that if we can't affect conditions on the ground in Pakistan and we can't get enough forces to hold captured towns in Afghanistan then we should either address those issues aggressively or pull out completely. Doing this job half-arsed is nothing more than wasting the lives of our military volunteers.
Scott Shane of the Times is suggesting the threat of terrorism might now be on the decline despite recent arrests and new tapes from both bin Laden and Zawahiri:
Al Qaeda and its ideology of global jihad are in a pronounced decline — with its central leadership thrown off balance as operatives are increasingly picked off by missiles and manhunts and, more important, with its tactics discredited in public opinion across the Muslim world.That is now, this was then, a Shane piece entitled "6 Years After 9/11, the Same Threat" discussing a 2007 report (a lot of reports came out that year after Pelosi and Reid took Congress) that suggested that Bush, by not engaging heavily in Afghanistan and focusing on Saddam, had made us less safe:
All told, despite the absence of any new attack on American soil since 2001, the conclusion that Al Qaeda “will continue to enhance its capabilities” to attack the United States suggests some miscalculation in the administration’s basic formula against terrorism: that attacking the jihadists overseas would protect the homeland.This generates some confusion. If, as Shane suggests, the threat has been diluted, something that may factor into Obama not honoring McCrystal's request, doesn't that mean Bush's 'fighting over there' strategy worked?
“I guess we have to fight them over here even though we’re fighting them over there,” said Steven Simon, a terrorism expert who served in the Clinton administration and is the co-author of “The Next Attack.”
And if the answer is that Obama's presence in the White House turned the tide, why have there been so many domestic threats of late? And does Obama even realize his success? A few months ago he told a group of vets there was no more important war than Afghanistan, one we must win:
While Obama says it's a must-win others now seem to be saying it's a war we might have already won in some respects by dispersing the threat. So what changed since 2007?
Well, assuming Iraq was making us less safe and assuming the surge worked to quell that threat by knocking back AQ in Iraq and demoralizing the international jihad, that would seem a big part of the story, something rather downplayed by Shane. Obama was adamantly against going into Iraq initially and later against the surge, and he has done nothing different in Iraq since taking office while increasing troops in Afghanistan, a war the generals now say we're losing. So how could we be winning against the global jihad?