cur-mud-geon: anyone who hates hypocrisy and pretense and has the temerity to say so; anyone with the habit of pointing out unpleasant facts in an engaging and humorous manner
President Obama has settled on his plan for the 'stans'...Pakistan and Afghanistan...and the plan demonstrates the conundrum that is present.
I think I understand that the military commanders feel the need for more troops to root out the Taliban/Al Qaeda trouble-makers in this vast region. I think I understand the reluctance of this president to make a commitment that could be the bain of his presidency. I think I understand the hesitancy of many in Congress to support this decision; and, I think I understand the need for many in Congress to express their support for the decision.
This is one of those questions that are faced by every president for which there may be no correct answer.
President Obama has tried to appease the various sides of the argument by sending 30,000 more troops into the region, but also setting a date certain for the commencement of the withdrawal of our troops. The date certain is contrasted with a definition of 'success'; there was no definition of what would constitute 'success'.
Obama is saddled with the need to trust that the current leadership in Afghanistan can clean up its corrupt government; he has essentially given that leadership a timeline with which it must comply.
That same timeline gives the opposition exactly what it needs...an understanding of how long it must hang on before things start turning its way. If you were the leader of the opposition and you knew you were up against modern technology that you were fighting in a guerilla fashion, the idea that all you needed to do was crawl into the proverbial cave and hide for 18 months would solve your dilemma. If that is all it takes for the guerillas to "win", then that seems a small price to pay.
Against this backdrop, of course, is popular opinion and the politics that exist in the United States. The left and further-left have vilified any idea of foreign incursions for so long as to have made it a mantra. The right and further-right have done likewise on the other side of the equation. Our country has not recently been willing to engage in long-term fights. We were attacked, literally, and we still do not seem able to stomach a long-term fight to eliminate those who were involved.
Layered on top of all this is the seemingly never ending need to spend more and more money on social programs, money that we don't have if we are heavily engaged militarily.
This president has just come through the first phase of what could easily be among the most defining issues of his presidency. He studied for three months trying to find that perfect balance point. He leads a deeply divided country, and he has worked diligently to find a mid-point that he could occupy.
The problem with mid-points is that, while a leader appears to have been able to balance the countervailing forces, it never really happens that way. Leaders we remember for their leadership are those who took bold actions and who were smart enough or lucky enough to have picked the right "bold action" at the right time.