The First Draft: No Shortage of High-Powered Advice for Obama

September 25, 2009

All week long, the U.S. media have been treating President Barack Obama to a morning drumbeat of high-powered opinion about what to do in Afghanistan. AFGHANISTAN

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.USA/

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.

This morning came news of the most high-powered opinion of all: that of the American public — or from the standpoint of Washington, the American voter. USA-POLITICS/OBAMA

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.

For more Reuters political news, click here.

Photo Credits: Reuters/Finbarr O’Reilly (Afghan landscape); Reuters/Molly Riley (U.S. Afghanistan casualty); Reuters/Richard Clement (Advice for Obama)


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If Obama had not used this war as a tool to pound Bush on Iraq during the election ,the troops would be on their way home now.People are using the excuse that he has his hands tied by the left wing of his party,he is the left wing of his party.Because many of his pre-election promises “are coming home to roost”like the mandate to close Gitmo by the end of the year,taxes on the middle class(unavoidable)single payer health care,and so on .He will make a decision on afghanistan,based political expediency which is not fair on the troops.

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive

What is actually being fought ? If it is terrorism, it is being fought in the wrong location. If it is about getting rid of poppy plants with daisy cutters, it is an overkill – drug trafficking will never cease. If it is about strategic positioning, it is about cutting into already stretched cash flows/current account and reserves/capital account.

I can’t believe how fickle people are about human life. It seems as if every Tom, Dick and Harry has been on the battle front.

I have nothing to gain from saying this: Obama is cool, he is an excellent orator, seems sincere in his efforts and is willing to admit to his mistakes. Let’s not forget, he is advised by, most probably, a small and tightly knit team of advisers.

Posted by Casper Lab | Report as abusive

Casper Lab,are you talking about the Czars or the Chicago mafia? It can not be his commander over their because the general has only talked to Obama once and that was on a video phone.The guy will get removed because he asked for more troops, which is what this administration did not want to hear.They will try to take this war of front page news,like they have done with Iraq but for different reasons. Iraq unlike what the democrats hoped is now progressing into a democracy,what we have to watch for now is behind the scenes,is a distancing to appease Iran in the appeasement talks.

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive