This morning I give President Obama an F in POLI 150 ("Intro to International Politics" at UNC) for the flawed analysis in his administration's Afghanistan policy.
The core policy is: deploy 30,000 troops now and bring them home in 18 months. Obama defends the approach against reasonable criticism in the following way:
"When I asked Obama if the Taliban wouldn't simply wait us out, he was dismissive: "This is an argument that I don't give a lot of credence to, because if you follow the logic of this argument, then you would never leave. Right? Essentially you'd be signing on to have Afghanistan as a protectorate of the United States indefinitely."I fail Obama for this response. As I would explain to the President were he to turn up in my office to ask why he failed, two really large and quite different flaws are at fault.
Second, Obama commits an error of historical analysis. American foreign policy since 1919 is (arguably) defined by precisely the implication Obama gives "little credence." The failure to recognize the need for a permanent American presence in Europe after WWI created the conditions that made WWII possible. Need I point out that the US still has a military presence in Germany? The Truman administration's failure to define its permanent interest in South Korea may have encouraged North Korea to believe it could invade with impunity. Need I point out that the US still has troops in South Korea? More generally, the lesson of 20th century US foreign policy is that we use indefinite commitments to defend important interests.