Need a way out

I've been reading through this national Q poll, and don't really think the Obama numbers (approval below 50%) mean that much statistically, as his numbers are high among Democrats, low among Republicans, and about tied among Independents-- right where I would expect things to be given the times.

Now, the Afghanistan numbers more interesting as its more in-depth than the usual things. In particular, it tells you exactly how the presumed surge there will be framed, and how it will not be framed.

As a reason why we need US soldiers to die over there, and why we need to drive up the already high deficit:

It won't be argued that its to build a stable democratic government in Afghanistan; or that the US would be successful in such a measure.

It will be argued that its necessary to eliminate the threat from terrorists operating from Afghanistan; but not that the US will be successful in such an effort.

Its just time to decide; and since the only options on the table all involve escalation, failure is not an option considered, but instead presumed. The incremental 'win' (if you are scraping the bottom of the loyalty barrel and really need one) is that a vague notion of an 'exit plan' has emerged from the shadows.

Back to the poll. What is electorally interesting, in regards to backing the surge, isn't that Democrats and Republicans line up opposite, and Independents reside in the middle; but whom among the Democrats is most strongly against the escalation in Afghanistan-- and that has big implications for Obama.

Military households are not in majority support of our being involved in Afghanistan; with 48% in support, and 42% of those family members saying no, the US should not even be involved with Afghanistan right now. 64% of the military households don't believe that the US will succeed in nation-building in Afghanistan, and 55% of the military households doubt the US will succeed in rooting out the terrorists in Afghanistan.

Those numbers reflect a serious problem with military morale in regards to our being involved in Afghanistan.

Moving into the matter of escalation is where I see big political problems emerge. When asked if Obama should send the additional combat troops General Stanley McChrystal has requested, the strongest voice of opposition saying "no" is among Black (73%) and Hispanic (60%) respondents.

And further, when asked how long troops should remain in Afghanistan, those responding 'less than 2 years' overall, is 72% for Democrats; with Black (75%) and Hispanic (61%) numbers just as high.

One thing I've noticed with Obama is that he has always recognized when he's about to lose his credibility of what got him where he is today-- his anti-war stand on invading Iraq.  He never once to my knowledge spoke a specific word about sending more troops into Afghanistan until after the nomination was secured, and then only two bridages. But often, and in much detail, he laid out his plan of deescalation from Iraq.

When John Edwards tried to move to the left of Obama over supplemental funding of the war, Senator Obama, who previously always voted in favor, quickly and predictably turned on a dime and found his voice of opposition. And he quickly covered back afterwards, and led the whip for his own subsequent war supplemental. I don't see anyway possible that Obama is going to change paths right now on Afghanistan-- he built the road and leads the surge. However, I believe he's finally sensing the dangerous path he's chosen with owning the Afghanistan war, and is looking for a way out. The numbers above show he has too.

That is, Obama's real '12 base, the one he cannot lose (and which really doesn't factor into '10 measuring) is the Black and Hispanic vote. He has to get equal those '08 numbers to win the '12 election in places like PA, FL, OH, MI, IN, VA, NC, NV, CO, and NM. He can afford to piss off liberal white anti-war voters, the progressive GLBT voters, and feminist single-women voters, but major policy reason for the massive turnout for Obama of Black and Hispanic voters, especially among the youth, was because of his position of getting the troops out of Iraq. And not for deficit or idealistic reasons, but simply to stop the deaths.

I'm already, after seeing the NJ and VA results, pessimistic that we will see those minority change voters participating in '10. Everyone assumes though, that '12 is another matter, and it will be switched on like a light bulb. The worst case scenario for ending 2010 for Democrats is to lose about 3-5 seats in the Senate, 15-20 in the House. Still in power, no momentum, and bogged down in a Democrat war.

I know there are some that believe that if the economy rebounds, all will be well and Afghanistan won't matter as much. Precisely the opposite of the truth though-- that the reason why Democrats aren't making as loud a noise over Obama leading an escalation in Afghanistan is because the economy and jobs situation is so dismal. There's not a way out of the occupation of Afghanistan other than leaving, so at the least, we have Obama now wondering and asking allowed, 'whats the exit plan' here... and make it 1-2 years max...

Tags: 2012, Afghanistan (all tags)

Comments

14 Comments

Re: Need a way out

The Way out is to PULL OUT.  Enough is Enough.  

by nzubechukwu 2009-11-18 06:31PM | 0 recs
Not really true

He never once to my knowledge spoke a specific word about sending more troops into Afghanistan until after the nomination was secured, and then only two bridages.

This isn't really true. He gave a speech in March 2008, before the end of the primaries, where he said he wanted to send two more brigades...something he first advocated the summer before.

http://dean2004.blogspot.com/2008/03/oba ma-policy-towards-pakistan-and.html

On the 5th anniversary of the Iraq War, Barack Obama delivered a foreign policy address in which he touched on numerous issues. I am excerpting the portion of his remarks about our Pakistan and Afghanistan policy, however, because I think this is the most critical element. In a nutshell, he advocates a post-Pervez policy, tying American aid to Pakistan not to stability under president Musharraf but rather towards progress in rooting out extremist enclaves and making genuine progress towards democracy.

Afghanistan policy:

The war in Iraq has emboldened the Taliban, which has rebuilt its strength since we took our eye off of Afghanistan.

Above all, the war in Iraq has emboldened al Qaeda, whose recruitment has jumped and whose leadership enjoys a safe-haven in Pakistan - a thousand miles from Iraq.

The central front in the war against terror is not Iraq, and it never was. What more could America's enemies ask for than an endless war where they recruit new followers and try out new tactics on a battlefield so far from their base of operations? That is why my presidency will shift our focus. Rather than fight a war that does not need to be fought, we need to start fighting the battles that need to be won on the central front of the war against al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

This is the area where the 9/11 attacks were planned. This is where Osama bin Laden and his top lieutenants still hide. This is where extremism poses its greatest threat. Yet in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, we have pursued flawed strategies that are too distant from the needs of the people, and too timid in pursuit of our common enemies.

It may not dominate the evening news, but in Afghanistan, last year was the most deadly since 2001. Suicide attacks are up. Casualties are up. Corruption and drug trafficking are rampant. Neither the government nor the legal economy can meet the needs of the Afghan people.

It is not too late to prevail in Afghanistan. But we cannot prevail until we reduce our commitment in Iraq, which will allow us to do what I called for last August - providing at least two additional combat brigades to support our efforts in Afghanistan. This increased commitment in turn can be used to leverage greater assistance - with fewer restrictions - from our NATO allies. It will also allow us to invest more in training Afghan security forces, including more joint NATO operations with the Afghan Army, and a national police training plan that is effectively coordinated and resourced.

A stepped up military commitment must be backed by a long-term investment in the Afghan people. We will start with an additional $1 billion in non military assistance each year - aid that is focused on reaching ordinary Afghans. We need to improve daily life by supporting education, basic infrastructure and human services. We have to counter the opium trade by supporting alternative livelihoods for Afghan farmers. And we must call on more support from friends and allies, and better coordination under a strong international coordinator.

by ND22 2009-11-18 06:37PM | 0 recs
Re: Not really true

Hard to forget this remark as it caused such a furore back in late summer 2007:

"We've got to get the job done there and that requires us to have enough troops so that we're not just air-raiding villages and killing civilians, which is causing enormous pressure over there"

Mark Murray AP: Obama's right on civilian casualties MSNBC 14 Aug 07

And quite early in the campaign:


Moreover, until we change our approach in Iraq, it will be increasingly difficult to refocus our efforts on the challenges in the wider region [list of regional challenges] ...and on Afghanistan, where more American forces are needed to battle al Qaeda, track down Osama bin Laden, and stop that country from backsliding toward instability.

Senator Barack Obama - Remarks of Senator Barack Obama to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs 23 Apr 07

That was his first major foreign policy speech of the campaign.  Whether he 'spoke a specific word about sending more troops into Afghanistan' is arguable but his policy seemed quite clear.  Candidates don't usually get too deeply into 'specifics' on national security matters.

by Shaun Appleby 2009-11-18 08:54PM | 0 recs
Re: Need a way out

The Q-poll is the first "conventional" poll that put's Obama's approval rating under 50%.

Afghanistan is taking it's toll, and even when including McChrystal's name, only 47% supported sending 40,000 troops--voters always support generals, you know that!

Obama has two strikes on him--the bailouts and the non-job creating stimulus.  Escalation in Afghanistan will be strike three--even Palin might win in 2012.

by esconded 2009-11-18 07:00PM | 0 recs
AP had him under 50% in August

I think it was AP. This isn't the first poll to show him under 50%.

by ND22 2009-11-18 08:02PM | 0 recs
LOL

Obama's approval has remained fairly consistent in the RCP average:

Approve: 51.3
Disapprove: 42.7

Your hysterics are completely unwarranted.

by NoFortunateSon 2009-11-19 06:01AM | 0 recs
One word: Outlier

Q's polling has been horrific lately and it's time to cast them aside.

Pres. Obama's approval has been on the upswing over the last week (compared to weeks prior) confirmed by various polls (53% from CBS, 55% from CNN and 56% from ABC).

Until I see other pollsters show the same low standing -- not Q who has reduced their RV sample since July (which has resulted in 50-ish percent approval ratings for President Obama and other odd polling results) -- I'll start to get concerned.

It's irresponsible to judge the opinion of the public with one poll.  Especially from an organization who conveniently stopped polling the national race in September of 2008.

by RussTC3 2009-11-18 08:07PM | 0 recs
I wouldn't be surprised

if this is a response to the KSM trial. Having a civilian trial is quite unpopular at the moment, although the same poll shows having a trial in the US is preferable to the people.

If Quinnipiac polled the weekend, that's what it could be. I noticed his Gallup numbers tanked on Sunday, when the entire sample would have been taken after the KSM trial was announced.

To me, this is the riskiest thing his administration has done.

by ND22 2009-11-18 08:39PM | 0 recs
You May Be Right

But it's arguably necessary.  This whole 'war on terror' and living in fear narrative is costing Americans their nerve.  The worst response to terrorism is to be terrified.

by Shaun Appleby 2009-11-18 08:58PM | 0 recs
I think the Administration is making some headway

They may receive little credit now, but I believe the Obama Administration is laying the foundation for an entirely new and far more appropriate American response to terrorism.

Hand in hand, the trial of SKH in Civilian Court in Manhattan shows bravery and faith in our judicial system.

Terrorism being viewed as a criminal matter is the worst fear of the 9/12 posse.

by NoFortunateSon 2009-11-19 06:12AM | 0 recs
wrong

Obama was (and still is) for keeping the ball of the "war on terror" in Afghanistan, and if necessary, to push the fight into areas of the Pakistani border (basing it on an unwillingness of the Pakistani military to fight the Taliban there).

I agree that there needs to be a re-think on the way the war is waged in Afghanistan, it would be better to bring in more multi-national army units, and to relocate armed forces from Iraq into Afghanistan.

It would be presumptous to think that all of a sudden the terrorists love America and will no longer plot to kill Americans (or its allies). The Taliban mentality is to fight until their last breath, and as such, a pull out or exit from Afghanistan will reinforce the Taliban as a 'victory'.

The mistake was Iraq, no way should we have even entered Iraq; but clearing out of Iraq, and learning the lesson of Iraq as "we need to move out of Afghanistan" is wrong and dangerous.

Afghanistan will have almost no bearing on 2010 elections. You think the Republican party will be telling Obama to withdraw??

2010 is about 2 things: 1. All politics is local, and 2. Healthcare

by Dickie Simpkins 2009-11-18 11:43PM | 0 recs
Re: Need a way out

I think the real determinant of how Afghanistan plays out in 2012 is how the republicans address it.  If they are silent on it, it won't have that much effect.  I think people have become numb to the wars.  There's certainly not that much reporting on them.

by orestes 2009-11-19 05:48AM | 0 recs
Re: Need a way out

I disagree, and believe its going to hurt turnout.

by Jerome Armstrong 2009-11-19 07:13AM | 0 recs
Re: Need a way out

I think it will hurt turnout among the anti-war voters for sure.  However, I think most voters are more focused on their quality of life at this point in time and will likely vote on that basis- unless the GOP spins the wars in a manner favorable to them (I expect they'll at least take a shot at it- eg, under Bush, the violence was decreasing, fewer casualties (if true), etc.).

by orestes 2009-11-19 10:25AM | 0 recs

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