Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Blame it on Biden

The Times has a "Biden is pessimistic on Afghanistan" story up, detailing the Veep's glass-half-empty view of a war he once enthusiastically endorsed when Bush was losing Iraq. There are a few dropped hints about how the base might somehow affect the coming decision, such as this:
“I think a big part of it is, the vice president’s reading of the Democratic Party is this is not sustainable,” said Bruce O. Riedel, who led the administration’s review early this year. “That’s a part of the process that’s a legitimate question for a president — if I do this, can I sustain it with political support at home? That was the argument the vice president was making back in the winter.”
Hmm, would the president actually decide whether or not to surge troops based on party politics? Well, to not surge and please the base would be hard to rectify considering his fiery rhetoric about Afghanistan being the central front of the overseas contingency operation. Then again, if he surges before the health care bill and the bill flames out, his left base will implode over such a dichotomy. There's also the December acceptance speech in Oslo to consider.

On the flip side if he delays, then gets health care passed and ends up not surging it will mainly be Fox News complaining, which is probably why the administration is doing what they're doing right now.

Obama has some time--the snows are coming and fighting will soon be ebbing for the winter (in Afghanistan). But if he wants to get the extra troops out there in time for Spring he can't wait too much longer to decide. The question is whether Biden's pessimism holds any clues? As Ricks pointed out, Joe has been wrong on nearly every single military strategic issue since the Gulf War so they can always attach the decision to him and let the chips fall (even if you're technically not supposed to mess with Joe). Cynical? Yes. So here's hoping domestic politics aren't as much in play as it would seem.

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