Is Obama's War Strategy a Wise One or a Betrayal?
During the presidential campaign red and white anti-war signs dotted the countryside. In some towns, they lined the streets.
The initial impetus for Barack Obama's candidacy came from the anti-war movement and his promise to bring the troops home.
At first, Obama argued that U.S. involvement in the war would end quickly after he became president. As the campaign wore on that urgency migrated to getting the troops out in 16 months.
On Friday, President Obama finally made it official. United States troops will be out of Iraq by the end of 2011 - the timetable worked out with the Iraqi government under former President George Bush.
But what of the 16-month timetable?
The newest version of the Obama plan - on its face - has the United States withdrawing combat troops in 19 months. However, his plan calls for leaving upward of 50,000 of the current 142,000 troops in support positions. This smaller number is carefully being referred to by those in the administration as anything but advisers, a term made politically incorrect by the Vietnam War.
And what if the war goes badly between now and 19 months down the road?
According to statements coming out of the White House, it appears all bets could be off for withdrawing United States troops.
So what did the anti-war movement get with their "agent of change," President Barack Obama?
Little or nothing, it would appear.
Obama has, for all practical purposes, signed onto the Bush Doctrine in Iraq.
But Obama's betrayal doesn't end there.
Obama isn't really bringing troops home. He is moving the numbers to Afghanistan. For those outside the anti-war movement who may have forgotten, Afghanistan is where Russia lost devastating numbers of its troops. So badly was the Kremlin defeated that the experience has been referred to as Russia's Vietnam.
So where is the anti-war movement now that it has been betrayed? Will those "Support Our Troops - End The War" signs remount front yards and line streets again?
As information about Obama's withdrawal plan leaked out, Bill Ayers, a 1960s leader of the homegrown terrorist group Weatherman, was among the few speaking out. Ayers became a lightning rod of criticism during the election because of his terrorist background and affiliation with then-candidate Obama.
To his credit, Ayers was consistent in expressing his disappointment over Obama's plan.
Referring to President Obama committing an additional 17,000 troops recently to Afghanistan, Ayers told Alan Colmes of Fox News, "It's a mistake. It's a colossal mistake. And, you know, we've seen this happen before, Alan. We've seen a hopeful presidency, Lyndon Johnson's presidency, burn up in the furnace of war."
"I fear that this brilliant young man, this hopeful new administration, could easily burn their prospect of a great presidency in the war in Afghanistan or elsewhere."
There is doubt that others who declared their anti-war preferences during the presidential campaign will be as consistent as Ayers.
Take New Hampshire congresswoman and former anti-war activist Carol Shea Porter for example.
"Our nation was attacked by evil people who trained in Afghanistan," said Shea Porter during a House debate. "We have a right to go into Afghanistan to remove the terrorist training camps. As a matter of fact, we should be working even harder there to make sure our Afghanistan mission does not fail. We must not allow the Taliban and other terrorist groups to control Afghanistan again."
This may be the cover the anti-war movement needs. Iraq just wasn't the right war, they will argue.
For the sake of America's sons and daughters in uniform, they had better be right. But the United States' experience in Vietnam and that of Russia in the barren hills of Afghanistan argue they are making a costly and deadly mistake.
Copyright © 2009 Geo. J. Foster Company