Opinion

Commentary: Obama's overreaching will harm Afghan strategy

Tuesday, the voters began applying the brakes to the Obama administration's leftward joyride. If the Democrats are listening, they'll get the message. What we saw last week had an undeniable intensity. The voters are restive and fearful.

President Obama's pending decision on Afghanistan highlights the risks for a president who tries to do too much too fast.

Perhaps the realization is dawning on the White House that when you're in a war, it's best to have the decks as clear as possible. Instead, Obama and the Democrats have spread uncertainty and fear like a virus.

Thanks to Obama's do-everything-now approach, businesses, individuals and financial market participants haven't the slightest idea what costs they will face from higher taxes and more mandates via health care reform, or the higher energy prices that would come with cap and trade.

President Bush was criticized for not demanding sacrifice from the nation after Sept. 11. But what the critics really mean is that he failed to seek a tax increase, forgetting that at that time — with the economy weak — a prolonged slump would have been disastrous for the nation’s morale.

America's prosperity is a vital element of national security. When the economy slumps, the nation's morale slumps. The view of what's possible shrinks, reducing the potential base of support for any decision to send more troops to a war that has gone on for years.

Obama is feeding this demoralization with his dithering on his generals' troop request. He is telegraphing weakness and lack of commitment at a critical moment.

Consider the timing: Finally, the Pakistanis are getting serious about dealing with their own jihadists.

They have launched a large offensive in Pakistan's lawless tribal areas with more than four divisions supported by air power.

What sort of message does it send that at this moment, with even Pakistan apparently determined to deal with its Islamist problem, the president of the United States cannot decide what to do? Even many Europeans are concerned.

Spiegel, the German magazine, observes that participation in the Afghan campaign has been tough for every NATO country involved. Obama may not be obliged to fulfill his generals' troop request, the magazine says, "but he is obliged to do something other than sit on his own hands."

Strategypage, a Web site addressing military issues, provides a bit of balance for the defeatism sweeping Washington.

Russia, say its analysts, never had a chance in Afghanistan. The tribes were against the Soviets, but today most of the tribes are against the Taliban and the drug gangs.

Meanwhile, Taliban havens in Pakistan are dwindling. Many more are being rolled up by the Pakistani army. "If you look at this war from the viewpoint of the enemy," Strategypage says, "things don't look very good at all."

Obama faces what may be the most pivotal decision of his administration with the nation shrouded in a cloud of uncertainty to which he himself has contributed.

We need a prosperous, growing economy to claw our way out of this. Obama and the Democrats have instead served up an inept "stimulus" bill and offered nothing for the future but the threat of higher taxes, higher regulation, more federal mandates — and now, the prospect of drift in Afghanistan.

November 2010 couldn't come soon enough.

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