On a Republican National Committee conference call today, former Iraq Coalition Provisional Authority spokesman Den Senor accused President Obama of “throwing a bone to the left” by “continuing to blame the policies of the Bush administration” for the current situation in Afghanistan.
Saying he was “pleasantly surprised” that President Obama had apparently decided to commit more forces to Afghanistan (something Obama had, of course, promised to do as a candidate) Senor said the president needed to level with the American people about the situation in Afghanistan. “It’s critically important that the president make clear that this is not the last speech on this subject, but the first of many.”
Asked whether the charge by Dick Cheney and other conservatives that the president was “dithering” on Afghanistan now seems silly because of Obama’s presumed decision to escalate the U.S. commitment there, Senor acknowledged that Obama “was presented with a bunch of really bad options, and he picked one that was least bad,” but added:
[President Obama] is, by doing this, challenging the left of his party. I think that’s why you see these comments he’s making continuing to blame the policies of the Bush administration in Afghanistan, which is as much about throwing a bone to the left as it is about anything.
Part of leveling with the American people about the situation in Afghanistan is talking honestly about why we’re still there after eight years. And that involves discussing the poor policy choices of the previous president. I don’t think it’s even controversial any more to point out that the U.S. effort in Afghanistan was disastrously mismanaged by the Bush administration. The failure to catch or kill Osama bin Laden when there was an opportunity, the failure to deliver on promised reconstruction aid, and the decision to divert troops and materiel to Iraq created a huge mess that President Obama must now devote significant resources and attention — and a substantial portion of his presidency — to cleaning up. There’s no reason why the American people, and the former Bush administration officials responsible, shouldn’t be reminded of this at every opportunity.