Will Progressives Bolt if Obama Says Yes to Afghan "Surge"?

Posted on October 3, 2009 by

Here’s a tough one:

Could it be that the war in Afghanistan is worth the costs for America?

Progressive Democrats are inclined to oppose foreign military actions. Many of us cut our teeth politically opposing the war in Vietnam, Reagan’s crusade to destroy the Sandinistas in Nicaragua and Bush’s fiasco in Iraq.

But from the beginning – just weeks after September 11th – the war in Afghanistan has split the American Left.

It may be unwise for us to act reflexively against General Stanley McChrystal’s plan for increased troops.

Obviously, I don’t know whether this plan can work, how long it would take, how many troops and Afghanis will die or suffer horrible injuries, if it can save Afghan women from Taliban enslavement, what the political toll will be on Obama and how the Republicans will use this conflict to manipulate public opinion for their own devious purposes.

But I do know that we learned an interesting lesson when, nearly three years ago, there was virtually universal liberal / progressive opposition to the “surge” in Iraq by President Bush. While the results may be mixed, the General David Petraeus plan was not the complete disaster many on the left predicted; and that whatever stability may have been achieved in Iraq has made it easier for this administration to implement its withdrawal plan.

For Obama supporters, evaluating military options is tricky business. Does it make me a hawk, a militarist or – God forbid – an imperialist to entertain the prospect that an Afghanistan War surge might be a good idea?

I might as well admit right now that if President Obama supports something that looks like a surge, I will not automatically join the opposition.

And I will tell you, without hesitation, that if and when Osama Bin Laden is captured or killed under the Obama regime, you’ll find me right there in the cheering section.

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