President Barack Obama can't win for trying. Recalcitrant Republicans usually eager to fight terrorist abroad are critical of the president's withdrawal date and an unusually large number of Democrats are leading a chorus of disappointment and disgust over expanding the war in Afghanistan.
You didn't expect Rep. Pete Stark to be one of the silent Democrats, did you? Stark, a fervent anti-war liberal, has long been critical of the war in Iraq and the once again burgeoning conflict in Afghanistan. After Obama's address which the president called for the deployment of an additional 30,000 troops and a withdrawal date of 2011, Stark called the decision a "great disappointment."
"Civilian and military casualties are at an all-time high. We should not be increasing our military presence. Lasting peace can only come through a diplomatic solution. I oppose any funding for military escalation in Afghanistan," Stark said in a statement.
Oakland's Rep. Barbara Lee, the only member of Congress to vote against authorizing sending troops to Iraq in 2001, took a similar tone saying, “I must respectfully disagree with the president. Afghanistan needs a political solution — not a military one. Adding more troops won’t change this important fact.”
To sample the growing vitriol Obama's announcement has created, the Los Angeles Times provides a sample of comments from California lawmakers, while MSNBC has a list of legislators in the normally staid U.S. Senate who have voiced similar displeasure.
"I support the President's mission and exit strategy for Afghanistan, but I do not support adding more troops because there are now 200,000 American, NATO and Afghan forces fighting roughly 20,000 Taliban and less than 100 al Qaeda," said Sen. Barbara Boxer, who is running for re-eleciton next year.
While liberals may feel anxious and betrayed by yesterday's announcement they should not be surprised. As far back as 2007, Obama maintained he would move the focus of the war from Iraq to Afghanistan with additional reinforcements.
Early in his campaign for president he said, "The first step must be getting off the wrong battlefield in Iraq, and taking the fight to the terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Our troops have fought valiantly there, but Iraq has deprived them of the support they need-and deserve. As a result, parts of Afghanistan are falling into the hands of the Taliban, and a mix of terrorism, drugs, and corruption threatens to overwhelm the country. As President, I would deploy at least two additional brigades to Afghanistan to re-enforce our counter-terrorism operations and support NATO's efforts against the Taliban."
As Stark and other rattle their bases to life, the overlooked method to Obama's 2011 pullout is the next two years of the conflict will indeed be "Obama's War" and with re-election just a year after, the success or failure of the plan will be front-and-center in 2012.
-STEVEN TAVARESJOIN THE REVOLUTION! www.eastbaycitizen.com