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Generational Dynamics Web Log for 21-Jul-2008
Barack Obama endorses growing American troop force in Afghanistan

Web Log - July, 2008

Barack Obama endorses growing American troop force in Afghanistan

The loony left ironically forces Obama to change from "anti-war" to "pro-war."

I was shocked earlier this week when CNN International gave 45 minutes of its one-hour prime newscast to Senator Barack Obama's speech to the NAACP. Senator John McCain's speech to the NAACP, arguably a more important news story, got about 30 seconds coverage. I guess I really shouldn't be surprised, after CNN practically turned the network over to the Democrats in the 2006 Congressional campaign. And now Obama is getting wall-to-wall "roadblock" coverage on all news networks on his overseas trip.

Obama has overwhelmingly one-sided news coverage. He appears to have the ability to get almost unlimited campaign funding. Almost everyone under 45 adores him, and Generation-Xers particularly love his contempt for and rejection of Boomer and Silent generation core values.

So it seems increasingly more probable that Obama will be our President next year, and increasingly more worthwhile for this web site to analyze not only how his attitudes reflect, and are affected by, public attitudes, but also how these attitudes will affect American foreign policy under an Obama presidency.

Obama becomes pro-war in Afghanistan

Leading Democratic party figures including Obama, disgraced themselves early in 2006 by committing themselves to America's failure and humiliation in Iraq. Obama himself specifically said that the "surge" would fail. Now that the surge has apparently been spectacularly successful, these Democrats have to face up to their positions.

As I wrote several weeks ago, Obama was attempting to "refine" his position in Iraq, but the loony left may harm him by forcing him to stick to his "immediate withdrawal" policy, which is not sustainable.

This has in fact happened, and Obama has apparently abandoned any attempt to "refine" his position on Iraq.

The thrust of the loony left in the Democratic Party might be characterized as "anti-Bush," "anti-American," and sometimes even "pro-terrorist." But the attitude was never really "anti-war," in any meaningful sense, and that's becoming increasingly apparent as Obama's policy towards Afghanistan becomes increasingly "pro-war."

This is the really ironic thing. As Obama is boxed into his "immediate withdrawal" position by the loony left, he's becoming increasingly strident and war-like in his policies toward Afghanistan.

Obama's interview on Face the Nation

Obama summarized his opinions in an interview with CBS foreign affairs correspondent Lara Logan in Kabul, broadcast on Sunday morning on Face the Nation:

Obama: "For at least a year now, I have called for two additional brigades, perhaps three. I think it's very important that we unify command more effectively to coordinate our military activities. But military alone is not going to be enough.

"The Afghan government needs to do more. But we have to understand that the situation is precarious and urgent here in Afghanistan. And I believe this has to be our central focus, the central front, on our battle against terrorism."

...

"The United States has to take a regional approach to the problem. Just as we can't be myopic and focus only on Iraq, we also can't think that we can solve the security problems here in Afghanistan without engaging the Pakistan government."

Logan: "And how do you compel Pakistan to act?"

Obama: "Well, you know, I think that the U.S. government provides an awful lot of aid to Pakistan, provides a lot of military support to Pakistan. And to send a clear message to Pakistan that this is important, to them as well as to us, I think that message has not been sent."

Logan: "Under what circumstances would you authorize unilateral U.S. action against targets inside tribal areas?"

Obama: "What I've said is that if we had actionable intelligence against high-value al-Qaeda targets, and the Pakistani government was unwilling to go after those targets, that we should. My hope is that it doesn't come to that - that in fact, the Pakistan government would recognize that if we had Osama bin Laden in our sights that we should fire or we should capture him."

Logan: "Isn't that the case now? I mean, do you really think that if U.S. forces had Osama bin Laden in their sights and the Pakistanis said 'No,' that they wouldn't fire or wouldn't go after him?"

Obama: "I think actually this is current doctrine. There was some dispute when I said this last August. Both the administration and some of my opponents suggested, 'Well, you know, you shouldn't go around saying that.' But I don't think there's any doubt that that should be our policy."

Logan: "But [not going after him] is the current policy."

Obama: "I believe it is the current policy."

Logan: "So there's no change, then?"

Obama: "I don't think there's going to be a change there. I think that in order for us to be successful, it's not going to be enough just to engage in the occasional shot fired. We've got training camps that are growing and multiplying."

Logan: "Would you take out all those training camps?"

Obama: "Well, I think that what we would like to see the Pakistani government take out those training camps."

Logan: "And if they won't?"

Obama: "Well, I think that we've got to work with them so they will."

Logan: "Would you consider unilateral U.S. action?"

Obama: "I will push Pakistan very hard to make sure that we go after those training camps. I think it's absolutely vital to the security interests for both the United States and Pakistan."

Logan: "You do have a situation seven years on into this war where Osama bin Laden and all his lieutenants and all the leaders of the Taliban, they're still there. They're inside Pakistan."

...

Logan: "What would be a 'mission accomplished' for you in Afghanistan?

Obama: "Well, a 'mission accomplished' would be that we had stabilized Afghanistan, that the Afghan people are experiencing rising standards of living, that we have made sure that we are disabling al-Qaeda and the Taliban so that they can longer attack Afghanistan, they can no longer engage in attacks against targets of Pakistan, and they can't target the United States or its allies."

Logan: "Losing is not an option?"

Obama: "Losing is not an option when it comes to al-Qaeda. And it never has been. And that's why the fact that we engaged in a war of choice when were not yet finished with that task was such a mistake."

Logan: "Do you believe the war on terror can't be won if Osama bin Laden is still alive and if he's still out there?"

Obama: "I think there would be enormous symbolic value in us capturing or killing bin Laden, because I think he's still a rallying point for Islamic extremists. But I don't think that by itself is sufficient. I think that we are going to have to be vigilante in dismantling these terrorist networks."

...

Logan: "Do you have any doubts?"

Obama: "Never."

When Obama says "Losing is not an option," he's talking a lot as President Bush did before (and after) the 2003 Iraq ground invasion. But why is he a little vague about those 2-3 brigades?

It seems that there's more to this story.

Did Face the Nation doctor the interview?

Like most mainstream news reporters these days, Face the Nation moderator Bob Schieffer has been totally in the tank for Obama for some time now. That's the only reason I can think of why the most newsworthy part of the interview was cut out from the presentation on his show.

The way that I know this is that those other parts are in a portion of the interview that was broadcast earlier on CBS News Sunday Morning. And the portions that were cut out are the portions where Obama made the most strident remarks about Afghanistan.

The following is my transcript:

Obama: "Right now, our most important strategic focus has to be to shut down al-Qaeda and the Taliban, and prevent them from being able to project their chaos and destruction to the far-flung corners of the globe, and that is going to have to be our top priority."


Unsmiling, sexy, sultry CBS correspondent Lara Logan interviews rock star Senator Barack Obama in Kabul. <font face=Arial size=-2>(Source: CBS)</font>
Unsmiling, sexy, sultry CBS correspondent Lara Logan interviews rock star Senator Barack Obama in Kabul. (Source: CBS)

Logan: "How deep is your commitment to that goal? How long would you be prepared to keep US troops in Afghanistam?"

Obama: "We have to win in Afghanistan."

Logan: "So losing is not an option."

Obama: "Losing is not an option when it comes to al-Qaeda, and it never has been."

Logan: "So what are the tangible changes that US troops on the ground will experience under your presidency?"

Obama: "Well, if you've got two or three additional brigades in Afghanistan, that's gonna obviously relieve the pressure on the troops who are currently here, who have to cover a huge amount of territory."

Logan: "So, two or three additional brigades won't make that much difference."

Obama: "Actually, it can make a significant difference here."

Logan: "And if those additional troops are not enough, then what?"

Obama: "We're gonna keep on going until we make it work."

Logan: "Would you send more of them?"

Obama: "I think right now let's see if we can get those two or three in."

I'm sure that if CBS were asked why this was left out of the Schieffer version, they'd give some spin answer. But the tone of this portion of the interview is far more warlike and strident than the other parts, even though CBS News Sunday Morning is really an entertainment show, while Face the Nation is supposed to be a hard-news show.

At any rate, this portion of the interview makes it clear that Obama is just as strident about Afghanistan as Bush was (and is) about Iraq. Obama is just as "pro-war" as President Bush is, as vice-president Dick Cheney is, Donald Rumsfeld is, as the neo-cons are, etc., etc., except that he's "pro-war" about a different war, and a far more dangerous war, and a war far more likely to escalate.

Logan and Obama

There's a side story here, as well. The interviewer is Lara Logan. Which of the following describe her?

The answer is "All of the above."

And now, Dear Reader, I'm sure you must be thinking, "Why in heaven's name is this stuff in the story? Is this just another one of your excuses to include a picture of a good-looking woman in the story?"

That may be one reason, but there's another reason, and it relates to the entire point of this story.

Lara Logan is young, super good looking, caught having an affair with a married colleague, pregnant, but still wants to be taken seriously as a foreign affairs correspondent. She has to work twice as hard to prove herself.

Bob Schieffer can doctor an interview tape and even be completely in the tank for Obama, and get away with it, because everyone "knows" that he's a hard-news, hard as nails, "unbiased" reporter.

But Logan can't get away with anything like that. She has to prove that she can handle the tough assignments and stand up to everyone. That's why she always had that weird, grim expression on her face during the interview. If she once smiled at Obama, she would be perceived as finding him sexy, and in the tank for him.

That's also why she asked Obama some very tough questions, and really cornered him on Afghanistan. It wouldn't surprise me to learn that Obama was surprised by the toughness of the questions, and perhaps got word to Schieffer to leave the tough parts out of the Face the Nation version of the interview.

Barack Obama has similar problems. He's young, he's a rock star, and having an affair with the loony left. He's not pregnant, but he's impregnated with their nihilistic, destructive view of the world, and can't break free, and still wants to be taken seriously as a Presidential candidate. He has to work hard to prove himself in foreign affairs.

John McCain doesn't have to prove himself. Everyone knows that he's a war hero, and that he's taken numerous trips abroad. If he took a position that was "soft" on Iraq or Afghanistan, he could get away with it, and no one would accuse him of being "soft."

But Obama can't get away with anything like that. He has to prove that he can handle the tough situations and stand up to everyone. That's why, after taking a weak position in Iraq, he has to compensate by taking a "strong" position in Afghanistan.

So swimsuit model Logan and rock star Obama have a lot in common and are very similar. Both want to advance in their careers. Both have used their good looks to advance this far. But now they want to get further ahead, and their good looks are perversely calling their abilities into question.

Actually, Logan has already gotten her promotion, as reported in an effusive Washington Post story that provides many details. In April, she was promoted to CBS's chief foreign affairs correspondent, and she now works in an office in Washington.

Obama is now looking for his own promotion -- to President. His trip this weekend is intended to prepare him for that.

Logan and Obama have something additional in common: Although they need to work hard to prove that there's more to them than their youthful good looks, in both cases most of their adoring fans really couldn't care less how much they know.

The war in Iraq


Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff <font face=Arial size=-2>(Source: Fox)</font>
Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff (Source: Fox)

Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was interviewed at length on Fox News Sunday. He responded to the "timetable" question for Iraq:

"WALLACE: But I'm asking you in the absence forget about Obama. Forget about the politics. If I were to say to you, "Let's set a time line of getting all of our combat troops out within two years," what do you think would be the consequences of setting that kind of a time line?

MULLEN: I think the consequences could be very dangerous in that regard. I'm convinced at this point in time that coming making reductions based on conditions on the ground are very important.

We've been able to do that. We've reduced five brigades in the last several months. And again, if conditions continue to improve, I would look to be able to make recommendations to President Bush in the fall to continue those reductions.

WALLACE: Why dangerous to set a timetable now for what's going to happen over the next two years?

MULLEN: When I have discussions with commanders on the ground, basically and I did a couple weeks ago they are very, very adamant about continuing progress, about making decisions based on what's actually happening in the battle space, and I just think that's prudent.

That's served us very well in certainly, since the surge, which has been very successful, and I think will continue to serve us well based on the overall conditions that I see in Iraq right now.

WALLACE: And why? What would happen if you don't do it as condition-based? What if you sit there and say, "Right now, timetable, two years, all combat troops out?" What's the downside?

MULLEN: Well, it's hard to say exactly what would happen. I'd worry about any kind of rapid movement out and creating instability where we have stability.

We're engaged very much right now with the Iraqi people. The Iraqi leadership is starting to generate the kind of political progress that we need to make. The economy is starting to move in the right direction. So all those things are moving in the right direction.

And from the standpoint of moving forward, I think it's a pretty good path right now."

Obama is going to continue to have a great deal of trouble dealing with this question, thanks to his inability to stand up to the loony left.

The war in Afghanistan

I'm currently working on a full analysis of the war in Afghanistan, so I'll just briefly mention a couple of things here.

Obama's "two or three brigades" is modeled after the "surge" that worked so well in Iraq. However, Afghanistan is quite different, and a similar "surge" will not work in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan has much more complex ethnic and religious rivalries. Their last crisis war, the extremely bloody and violent 1992-96 civil war, involved multiple ethnic groups aligned largely as a war between Sunnis and Shia in Afghanistan.

That was never true in Iraq. Historically, in crisis wars, Iraqis have considered themselves to be Iraqis first, and Sunnis and Shia second.

Iraq was infiltrated by Sunni al-Qaeda fighters, but they had no safe haven, and were eventually expelled by the Iraqi Sunnis themselves.

Afghanistan has been infiltrated by Sunni al-Qaeda fighters, but they have safe haven in the Pakistan tribal regions (FATA). Furthermore, they're supported by the Sunni Pashtun/Taliban groups in the general public in Afghanistan, who see them as their allies in opposing not only the NATO forces, but also the Shia Hazara and related ethnic groups in the north.

In many ways, the Afghan war is, like the conflict in Kashmir, part of a larger proxy war between India and Pakistan. That proxy war is only going to escalate. As the US itself escalates in Afghanistan, it will eventually be pulled into the larger war, on the side of India.

There's one more very interesting thing that Obama said in the above interview. He referred to his previous statements that if he knew as President where Osama bin Laden was hiding in Pakistan, and Pakistan refused to do anything about it, he would send American forces into Pakistan to kill him.

In Sunday's interview, he said: "I think actually this is current doctrine. There was some dispute when I said this last August. Both the administration and some of my opponents suggested, 'Well, you know, you shouldn't go around saying that.' But I don't think there's any doubt that that should be our policy."

Obama may be onto something here: There may well have been a de facto change of policy since last August.

In August, Pakistan was still being led by a strong President Pervez Musharraf. Any talk about US forces in Pakistan could be dealt with directly and firmly.

But no more. Musharraf's power has been substantially eclipsed by parliamentary elections. He's no longer head of the army, and the army is now almost completely autonomous. The Pakistan government is paralyzed and rudderless, unable to cope with substantial problems. The strength of terror groups is growing. There were violent protests at the Karachi Stock Exchange last week, as the stock market appears to be crashing. The economy appears to be crashing too, thanks to surging food and energy prices. There are electricity shortages and even a water shortage.

And so, if Obama were President today, and ordered some kind of invasion of Pakistan to go after bin Laden or other terrorists, who in Pakistan would stand up to him? So things in Pakistan today really are quite different than they were last August.

Overreaction

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, it makes little difference who is elected President. Either way, there will be a major financial crisis, and a "Clash of Civilizations" world war.

The difference is that President McCain would be a lot more steady.

President Obama would be young and forced to prove himself, and so he would overreact. We already see that in his warlike stance in Afghanistan.

However, that doesn't necessarily mean that he would provoke a war more quickly. The trend towards world war is based on huge generational changes in countries around the world, not on the actions of one country or one President.

The most that can happen is that a politician might say or do something that triggers a war response. It's even possible that historians looking back will say that the politician "caused" the war. But in fact, it was coming anyway.

No politician can predictably speed up or slow down the financial and war crises that are headed our way. All we can do is wait for them, and use the time to prepare for them as well as we can. (21-Jul-2008) Permanent Link
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