It’s difficult not to view the president’s surprise visit to Afghanistan as little more than just another domestic political campaign ploy. The trip, after all, comes only a day after the president and his reelection team tried to make political hay out of the Navy Seals’ killing of bin Laden.
Obama, moreover, long ago abandoned any pretense to governing and has said disconcertingly little about Afghanistan.
Sure, in 2009 he announced a troop surge — but only after dithering for months while the situation there deteriorated. Worse yet, at the very time Obama ordered more troops into battle, he was undercutting them by announcing a date certain for their withdrawal. He then fired the commanding general there, Stanley McChrystal, because McChrystal expressed some mild disappointment in his civilian chain of command.
Gen. Petraeus (and later Gen. Allen) took over in Afghanistan and Obama has since all but forgotten about the place — except to announce that we will be leaving soon, in 2014. And now, all of a sudden, while in the midst of a fierce reelection campaign, the president trumpets “his” killing of bin Laden (sic) right before descending into Kabul.
His message: peace in our time.
My fellow Americans, we have traveled through more than a decade under the dark cloud of war. Yet here, in the pre-dawn darkness of Afghanistan, we can see the light of a new day on the horizon. The Iraq War is over. The number of our troops in harm’s way has been cut in half, and more will be coming home soon. We have a clear path to fulfill our mission in Afghanistan, while delivering justice to al Qaeda.
Maybe, but with the Islamic world in turmoil, Syria in flames, the Iranian mullahs still in power, and al Qaeda far from dead, it may be premature to say that America’s decade of war has passed. Obama is basking in the glow of successes initiated by his predecessor, George W. Bush. But there remain a host of problems — including Iraq and Afghanistan, Iran and North Korea — that Obama has bequeathed to his successor, Mitt Romney.