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Obama's Afghanistan strategy hard to swallow

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Saturday, December 5, 2009

The slurping sound you may have heard after President Obama's speech at West Point was yours truly once again demonstrating his trust in a leader by drinking the Kool-Aid. This time, however, I didn't chug-a-lug as I did after then-Secretary of State Colin Powell's Feb. 5, 2003, presentation to the U.N. Security Council on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

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I swallowed every drop back then because I thought it inconceivable that Powell, one of the country's most respected public officials, a former top military commander tempered by Vietnam experience and sensitive to the importance of personal credibility, would present to the world a case on weapons of mass destruction that could prove to be bogus. But it happened.

Sobered by that experience, I stopped short of going bottoms-up with Obama on Tuesday night.

I did sample the White House Kool-Aid, though, because -- here I go again -- it is inconceivable to me that Obama, a cautious, thoughtful leader who presciently opposed the Iraq war, would, after months of painstaking review of the situation in Afghanistan, decide on a course that leads America to military, financial and political disaster.

Still, this time I left a lot of Kool-Aid in my glass. Minutes after Obama's speech it was clear to me that there's nothing like the feel of watching him deliver it.

Gone were the grand auditorium, the uniformed cadets, the military brass and Cabinet members. Gone, too, the applause.

Left behind were reality without rhetoric and the message of the night: not to worry. "After 18 months," declared Obama, "our troops will begin to come home."

Hence the halt in my Kool-Aid consumption.

The Obama administration would have us believe that in all of a year and a half, tens of thousands of U.S. troops will be mobilized and sent to Afghanistan, where they will join other forces and in that time deny al-Qaeda a haven, reverse the Taliban's momentum and reduce its ability to overthrow the Afghanistan government, strengthen the capacity of Afghan security forces so they can fend for themselves and stabilize neighboring Pakistan.

All in the time it takes a newborn to become a


I never made it above the rank of first lieutenant in the Army, and even then I was commissioned in the Adjutant General's Corps. A seasoned warrior I was not.

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