The First Draft: No Shortage of High-Powered Advice for Obama
First came Bill Clinton, who told NBC that he thinks Obama should do nothing yet about his top Afghanistan commander’s call for more troops. Why not? Because the U.S. succeeded in Iraq only because it had support from the locals and lost in Vietnam because it didn’t. Meanwhile, the jury of local Afghan sentiment is still out and probably will stay out until doubts about the country’s recent election are resolved in a manner that enhances credibility. To Clinton’s way of thinking, if the U.S. pours in more troops without true popular support, Humpty Dumpty could very likely fall, and all the best forces and all our armed men … well, you get the idea.
Then there was Pervez Musharraf, the former dictator of Pakistan, using the royal “we” on ABC to describe what he thinks Obama should do. It’s quite simple, really. Decide at once to send more troops and tell the voters to get used to the idea of higher casualties. The former general dismissed the danger of the U.S. following the Soviet Union and the British Empire down the road to defeat, suggesting victory is more likely in the 21st Century. “There’s always a first time and we are better equipped,” he said.
More than 50 percent of Americans, as determined by pollsters for CBS News and the New York Times, say the war in Afghanistan is going somewhat or very badly. Fewer than one in three say Obama should send more troops, about one-third favor a decrease in forces and just over one-quarter suggest keeping the number of troops where it is now.
Will it be A, B or C? Only time and Obama can tell.
But the mix of public opinion may be slightly more favorable for the president, should he decide to back a troop increase. In August, a larger percentage of Americans — 41 percent — wanted a decrease in forces and slightly fewer backed an increase.
The CBS/New York Times poll also showed Obama to be more popular than Ronald Reagan at this point in his presidency, with a 56 percent overall job approval rating — though that’s down from 68 percent last spring. Reagan, who attracted substantial bipartisan support among voters, had an approval rating of 53 percent nine months into his first term, according to the Times.
Photo Credits: Reuters/Finbarr O’Reilly (Afghan landscape); Reuters/Molly Riley (U.S. Afghanistan casualty); Reuters/Richard Clement (Advice for Obama)