With the huge stink raised by Republican hawks over President Obama’s announced plan to reduce troop levels in the Afghanistan war, you’d think Obama decided to withdraw troops and simply give up on the nearly 10-year-long war. But on Fox News this weekend, hawk extraordinaire Bill Kristol argued that Obama’s big mistake was to not sustain troop levels for a mere four more months of the conflict — ending the surge in September 2012 instead of January 2013.
On Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace asked Kristol how long he wanted to keep a robust level of troops — at “surge” levels — in Afghanistan. Kristol, in a long answer, accused the president of playing politics with the surge drawdown, timing its completion right before the presidential election, saying that January 2013 would’ve been more “responsible”:
The key of the speech is the end of summer: September 2012. There is no military, economic, diplomatic, any rationale for advancing the withdrawal for advancing the withdrawal to Sept 2012, except it allows to stand up in the presidential debates in Oct 2012 and say see I finished the withdrawal. That is a kind of political move that is indefensible. …Why is it September 2012 instead of January 2013, which was the militarily responsible thing to do?
Watch the video:
Make what you will of the president’s motivations for making his decision, but it seems rather unlikely that four months would make or break the war effort. A quick glance at the “In the News” page of the Kristol-led Foreign Policy Initiative shows Kristol and his neoconservative allies accusing Obama of a “disgraceful decision” and “putting [the] progress at risk and raising the specter of a return to [an] under-resourced and unsuccessful strategy.”
Though these critics accuse Obama of playing politics, one wonders what they have on their minds when they attack Obama for planning the draw down with a 120-day shorter time frame than they would have. Do they really expect that completing a draw down four months later will make all the difference in the world to the ten-year-old morass of the Afghanistan war?