Um, About Obama's Afghanistan Campaign "Promise"...

by: David Sirota

Thu Dec 03, 2009 at 15:44

In the days since President Obama announced he is massively escalating the Afghanistan War (and yes, a 30-40% troop increase is massive), it has become assumed fact that he is just fulfilling his campaign promise. The idea is that nobody has a right to be angry at him, because hey - he promised it!

Of course, that's an absurd notion in that (as Glenn Greenwald points out) you could similarly argue that hey - since George W. Bush promised in 2004 to escalate the Iraq War and privatize Social Security, nobody had a right to oppose that either...and nobody made that argument.

But even if you accept the "Obama promised an Afghan escalation so STFU" premise, it still doesn't really fly - because here's the thing everyone's forgetting: He never "promised" to double the size of the Afghanistan occupation. Not even close.

As you can see from Politifact and Newsweek, President Obama promised to send 2 more brigades. As the U.S. Army's website shows, a brigade is up to 5,000 troops, which means President Obama specifically promised to send 10,000 more troops to Afghanistan. He in no way promised send 47,000 more troops - or 9 brigades worth of troops - to Afghanistan, which is what he has done between his February escalation of 17,000 troops and now his December escalation of 30,000 more troops. And he in no way promised to send tens of thousands more private military contractors.

Now, sure, if you wanted to be obsequiously propagandistic in your fealty to President Obama, you could argue that he gave himself a two-word out when he made his Afghanistan campaign promise - he said he'd send "at least" two more brigades. So yeah, you could lawyer it to say that technically, he hasn't "broken" a campaign promise - just like Republicans lamely argued that even though Bush in 2000 said he was against nation building, he also said he wanted to protect America, and that latter clause meant his Iraq adventure wasn't breaking the promise in the former clause.

Yes, Obama maybe hasn't broken an explicit campaign promise on Afghanistan (while, of course, explicitly breaking promises on everything from NAFTA to Gitmo) - and he certainly didn't promise to end the Afghanistan War (nobody has said he did). But I'd say he also isn't simply "fulfilling" a campaign promise by escalating the troop increase he committed to by a factor of four (and again, that's only counting U.S. military troops, and not private contractors).

In fact, I'd say a lot of people have a right to feel exactly the way eminently esteemed historian Garry Wills feels: misled or perhaps even betrayed by a guy who campaigned against Bush's neoconservative foreign/military policy, and made a limited pledge of escalation, and now is going above and beyond the spirit of that pledge.

David Sirota :: Um, About Obama's Afghanistan Campaign "Promise"...

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I guess you don't recall those speeches (4.00 / 5)
in which he pledged to triple the number of troops regardless.

I will send 50,000 more troops to Afghanistan even if the mission there becomes obviously futile, even if the government there shows itself to be hopelessly corrupt, even if the CIA keeps funding the Taliban, even if Afghani civilians keep dying at an alarming rate, even if the plight of Afghani women keeps deteriorating, even if we keep creating terrorists, even if the American economy is struggling and desperately needs jobs...

Ya, I must have missed that one! (0.00 / 0)

[ Parent ]
Betrayed? (4.00 / 1)
Certainly, anger and opposition and pushback and so forth, that makes sense.  But betrayal?  We were all listening to the same guy during 2008 right?  Cause that guy definitely promised a ramped-up troop presence in Afghanistan...

10,000 vs. 47,000+ (4.00 / 2)
Being promised a 10,000 troop increase vs. getting a 47,000 troop increase plus tens of thousands more private military contractors = getting misled. Doing that while winning primaries bashing Bush/Cheney foreign policy neoconservatism/militarism - well, some IMHO have a right to feel betrayed.

Me, I'm only in the angry phase - but I can see how some might feel betrayed.

[ Parent ]
Perhaps It's My Memory That's Faulty (0.00 / 0)
I could have sworn I remembered Obama promising more than 10k, and feeling ambivalent about it, but maybe the past 18 months are starting to blur together...

Carry on then!

[ Parent ]
he said 2-3 brigades (0.00 / 0)
... and a brigade is 4-5K troops.  He fulfilled that promise when he sent 17k additional troops in February.  In no way did he promise this additional, much larger escalation.

[ Parent ]
This is not the Change (0.00 / 0)
I had Hoped for.

Obama is a profoundly dishonest liar. (0.00 / 0)
When it was convenient to drape himself in the anti-Bush regalia of the peace candidate he did so with gusto. Yes. He protected himself from right wing attacks saying he thought Afghanistan deserved greater priority but that is a far cry from the clusterf**k this unprincipled screw is giving us.

Spin (4.00 / 1)
I agree that Obama didn't promise to send this many troops.  My complaint is against those that said he promised not to.  You should complain about this escalation, but there is no broken promise or betrayal in the decision.

Sometimes people get so involved in something they accidently equate all "good" things with each other and all "bad" things with each other.  But the real world doesn't work that way.  One can be wrong (or stupid or politically motivate, etc.) and not a liar at the same time.  That logic works with a large number of other good and bad things that mean something different.

You are parsing what the meaning of broken promise is (4.00 / 1)
This is your choice, but as I told someone else trying to parse like you did- your problem is that Obama ran on Brand Anti-Clinton and Brand Bring Our Troops Home. Most people did not read the fine print, and most people would not consider the fine print you mention significant enough to claim well there was not at the very least misdirection.

[ Parent ]
Obama (4.00 / 2)
Obama always supported the Afghanistan war.  It is consistent with every thing he has ever said.  Hell, go back and read Obama's original speech opposing the Iraq war, which doesn't address Afghanistan directly but does say:

Good afternoon. Let me begin by saying that although this has been billed as an anti-war rally, I stand before you as someone who is not opposed to war in all circumstances. [...]

I don't oppose all wars.

After September 11th, after witnessing the carnage and destruction, the dust and the tears, I supported this Administration's pledge to hunt down and root out those who would slaughter innocents in the name of intolerance, and I would willingly take up arms myself to prevent such a tragedy from happening again.

I don't oppose all wars. [...]

That's what I'm opposed to. A dumb war. A rash war.

Obama has always used Afghanistan as the counterpoint to why Iraq was specifically a bad war, but war is not always bad.  You can disagree with him on this, but don't try to spin it some other way.

[ Parent ]
The numbers that he promised speak for themselves (0.00 / 0)

[ Parent ]
Yes, I think it's closer to (0.00 / 0)
a promise he's kept and shouldn't have than a promise he's broken and shouldn't have, like his promise to redo NAFTA.

A general related point: both Obama critics and Obama defenders are scoffing at progressives who say they feel disappointed in Obama, because he's basically governing as he made clear he would. For example, Digdy rips today rips into Tom Hayden for saying he's tearing the Obama sticker off his car.

Well, I'm both unsurprised and disappointed. If that's a technical contradiction, it makes sense emotionally (at least for me), because I retained some hope despite myself that I was wrong, that Obama would surprise me.  

[ Parent ]
Hoping Obama Would Change His Mind (4.00 / 1)
I actually liked Obama's Afghanistan stance a year ago, but I've changed my mind over time.  I was hoping Obama had followed the same path I did, but apparently not.

For those that continue to think Obama is betraying his status as "Brand Bring Our Troops Home," they must be forgetting the ruckus last January over sending drones and missions into Pakistan without permission.  Obama was more hawkish in the region than even the Republicans at the time; this was during the Democratic primaries where conventional wisdom says you are supposed to swing left.

[ Parent ]
yeah, well Afghanistan is now a dumb war (4.00 / 1)
and, in to paraphrase Charlie Sheen (in Wall St) - "now you own it Barack!"

[ Parent ]
Well that's their fault..... (0.00 / 0)
So you are saying that its a broken promise because the general american public is too lazy to actually read policy positions? that's completely ridiculous aside from being incorrect- Obama NEVER ran on an antiwar brand, he ran on an anti-iraq brand, in fact he absolutely depended on his militaristic afghan rhetoric to legitimize his anti Iraq rhetoric.

the funk can move and the funk can remove- dig?

[ Parent ]
It is their fault that they listened to the branding rather than (4.00 / 2)
the fine print in the contract? Look, as I have said, I am not sure what I think of this because I want to address the very real threat that some of these terror orgs represent, but please give me a break with this stuff. It is not the American people fault that Obama and crew wanted to manipulate them, and it is certainly not a get out jail free card just because you can now point to the fine printing asking why didn't people read it. Especially where the fine print so clearly was to a degree and on a scale not contemplating even in that language. You are doubly misdirecting- first by claiming that this is what he said (when numerially it is not) and then by pretending Brand Obama was not attempting to represent himself as Mr Anti War or Mr Anti Clinton. At the end of the day, you will better served arguing why this is necessary rather than pissing on people's leg and telling it is sunshine. No one is going to buy this argument on any emotional level that matters.

[ Parent ]
Please (0.00 / 0)
Don't you remember this?  It was a pretty big deal at the time.

Q: You said back in August you would go into western Pakistan if you had actionable intelligence to go after it, whether or not the Pakistani government agreed. Do you stand by that?

A: I absolutely do stand by it. We should do everything in our power to push and cooperate with the Pakistani government in taking on Al Qaida, which is now based in northwest Pakistan. And what we know from our national intelligence estimates is that Al Qaida is stronger now than at any time since 2001. And so, back in August, I said we should work with the Pakistani government, first of all to encourage democracy in Pakistan so you've got a legitimate government, and secondly that we have to press them to do more to take on Al Qaida in their territory; and if they could not or would not do so, and we had actionable intelligence, then I would strike. The two heads of the 9/11 Commission a few months later wrote an editorial saying the exact same thing. I think it's indisputable that that should be our course.

This ain't fine print.  This was perhaps the most debated foreign policy point in January, at the very beginning of the primaries.

[ Parent ]
Yes, and I supported that statement at the time (0.00 / 0)
pissing off  a lot of my more liberal friends. But guess what, you are still pissing down my leg. That has nothing to do with a sustain war effort and you know it. The reason why folks like you are cheerleaders to me is that you are so zealous in your attempts to protect President Obama that you make absurd arguments. You are not helping yourselves or him with this crap. It is one of the problem he has right now. When people for example kept saying we need to worry more about the effectiveness of the stimulus than the imagery, many of you were defending that shit pile too. At some point, I got to wonder what you think you are doing here. If your goal is to help him, you aren't. Not with these misdirections a high school debate team could see through. And that's assuming they are even going to listen that l ong since most Americans will just think Brand Obama=No war, and now he is changing that. Political careers live by branding. Political careers can die by branding to use a metaphor.

[ Parent ]
What cheerleading? (0.00 / 0)
I'm only countering the stupidity of your arguement.  I hate this decision by Obama, but that doesn't mean you can go around and make shit up.

For some reason, people assume they only they can see beyond personalities and everyone else's opinion is based on who's team they are on.  Bullshit.

If you want to strengthen your arguement, limit yourself to facts.  It ain't that hard.

[ Parent ]
What part of my statement is made up (0.00 / 0)
you seem so vested in your position that you are not reading. Go back, re-read what I wrote, and point out where I even exaggerate a claim, much less make one up.  

[ Parent ]
"fine print" (0.00 / 0)
To call Obama's attitude towards Afghanistan "fine print" is making things up.  As I've pointed out numerous times, this was a very publicly debated point.

You are correct that I got too into this debate, though.  Sorry about that.  But dammit, I'm right and you are wrong and you should just fess up and admit it!  :-)

[ Parent ]
My points are mainlya bout branding. (0.00 / 0)

[ Parent ]
Branding (0.00 / 0)
I found "branding" to vague to discuss directly.  But if "peace" was Obama's brand, Obama himself very publicly worked to undermine that brand with respect to Afghanistan, as all the quotes I've given indicate.

But I certainly admit that peace-mongers looking for a candidate had little choice, assuming Kucinich was rejected.  Everyone else voted for the Iraq war.  I'm sure many of them convinced themselves that Obama was something he never claimed to be, as Iraq got most of the attention.

[ Parent ]
I find liberals have a hard time addressing branding (0.00 / 0)
yet most of the world runs on it, which places you at a distinct disadvantage. And please stop acting like this was a one side affair. It is like the guy who uses the girl, but says afterwards "but I was always honest.' Yes you were, but you were also very clear that you were using them. The same is true of Obama here.  

[ Parent ]
Mark this argument does go round and round (0.00 / 0)
The argument (and you make it well) is that Obama laid out explicitly enough groundwork in his campaign so that he cannot be fairly  called a liar in taking his present Afghanistan action. You and most of us here think this is a very wrongheaded decision on many levels and for many different reasons. Clearly we are not going to agree on every aspect of our analysis but much of the debate has been sparked by the left criticism of the decision and the "got-his-back" crowd using his campaign as justification. I know you are sensitive to your being criticized and confused with that crowd; clearly you are not; you feel the left in its outrage goes too far in their descriptions of what Obama said and projected during the campaign at odds with what he is doing now. Of course you are right, just as we on the left are also right in our anger at the party hacks who will defend Obama using the deep analysis of "Shut the fuck up. He said he would invade during the campaign. Suck on it."

I think bruhrabbit2 really puts his finger on the issue precisely. I think Obama really did brand himself as the "peace" candidate, not so "weak" that he neglected going after Bush-McCain on Afghanistan and al Qaeda from the right...but certainly he emphasized and projected his peace credentials rather than his war side. He was remarkably effective (much more at branding) than providing leadership, or restoring principle or much so that he has been able to garner a peace prize while seriously, very seriously escalating the war and wreaking destruction and devastation. I think Sirota's analysis is really quite good here dissecting his precise words and context on the campaign and contrasting it with what he is doing now. That contrast is stark. For me, this gap suffices to brand Obama a "liar". Why do I deliberately use the term "liar" instead of a more neutral term? Because it is justifiable in Obama's deceptive branding (just like compassionate conservative Bush) and we are in a political arena, not in a classroom parsing and weighing  each nuance, and I oppose him and his actions.

I assure you if his intent had really been explicit I really would not have voted for him; this issue is that important for me; I promise you I will not vote for him in the future; I promise you I will never vote for my Democratic representative (who supports Obama's escalation) again. Those are promises  you can bank on.

[ Parent ]
David, you forgot another promise (4.00 / 2)
vis a vis Afghanistan that Obama made:

Find, Disrupt, and Destroy Al Qaeda: Obama will responsibly end the war in Iraq and focus on the right battlefield in Afghanistan.

Now, that's a pretty broad promise, to be sure.  And I do not agree with those who say "He promised this, so STFU!" It's not like he's immune from criticism in the implementation of a promise.

I do think, though, given this, betrayal is a bit off base in characterizing his actions.

the problem I have with your statement is how lawyer like it is (0.00 / 0)
It is true it is not a betrayal, but it was definitely take advantage of branding.  

[ Parent ]
I feel betrayed by Obama, (0.00 / 0)
and I am not alone, by far.  This is not his only transgression.  His brain has been taken over by Rahm Emanuel, and he is no longer the Obama I campaigned for.  

It seems to me that, not only are there right wing propagandist trolls lurking on our progressive sites, but now, it appears that we also have a group of DLC propagandists lurking here, spouting their line as well.  But they should know by now that such doesn't work  with us.  We have minds of our own, and they cannot be tainted by any kind of spin.  Obama betrayed us, but we are progressives, and we will find our spokesperson in short order.  Obama will never win another election!

[ Parent ]
Who is making this defense? (4.00 / 3)
Here is Greenwald:

The most bizarre defense of Obama's escalation is also one of the most common:  since he promised during the campaign to escalate in Afghanistan, it's unfair to criticize him for it now -- as though policies which are advocated during a campaign are subsequently immunized from criticism.

My question is simple: who is making this defense?  I've yet to see a link or read someone making this defense themselves.  I have seem people call Obama a liar or betraying his promises and others point out that no, this is consistent with what Obama campaigned on.  But that counter arguement is not the same thing as claiming no one should complain at all.  It is just a matter of limiting your complaints to the actual truth.

If Obama promised to expand some social program by at least X and later doubled or tripled that number, no one here would consider that a lie.  If any conservative tried to make that point we'd laugh at him.

I can't provide a link (4.00 / 3)
but on facebook and such I see folks saying he promised to do this in the campaign so stfu about criticizing him on this decision.  Of course, that is very different from debate on blogs such as OL.  But it is out there for what it is worth, just more in talking to your neighbor then in a rigorous discussion kind of way.  

What freaks me out more is hearing progressives use the same kind of talking points that we hear from the right-wingsters usually.  ie "don't you care about girls getting acid throw in their face" "look how the military did so well with the surge in Iraq" "are you a wimp?, pussy?"  "America! - Fuck yeah!" "you don't know what you are talking about" "trust Obama, he knows what he is doing!  He is a super-duper great guy!"

but all this is just personal experience, I am not sure if it happening on political blogs....I tend to avoid most except OL because of time issues & such.

[ Parent ]
Sure, (4.00 / 1)
Of course, I knew as soon as I posted this that someone would come up with an example.  After all, the internet is a big place and you can find all sorts strange opinions on everything.  I'm sure several people in comments on various blogs have said something similar.

But by and large, David's and Glenn's point seems to be a strawman to me.  The stfu's I've seen have been specific to complaints that Obama lied or broke a promise with this move.  David and Glenn seem to be expanding the counterpoint to something that very few people are actually saying.

On Iraq, there were always two types of people who opposed the war: people who opposed all war and people who thought the Iraq war specifically was stupid.  Those in the first camp latched onto Obama because they had few options, but Obama himself was never in that camp.

Personally, I still think going into Afghanistan was the correct thing to do.  But "was" and "is" aren't the same thing.  I honestly don't know what we are trying to accomplish there, today.  I guess I should go back and read Obama's speech, see what he claims.  To be honest, I didn't have the heart to even watch it.

[ Parent ]
Mark, to my knowledge, you have never made that argument. (0.00 / 0)
And you have corrected me among others who have not been perfectly accurate about what Obama said, I intend to be more careful. But having said that, the real question is where does this take us. How bad/good is Obama? LBJ did do some worthwhile things pre-Vietnam escalation. After that, the left had little use for him and moved to outright opposition. Admittedly the situation is not identical. But I think one year of this administration is enough. No matter who I vote for, no matter who wins, I get the same Republican policies from our rulers.  

[ Parent ]
Defensive (4.00 / 2)
I guess I'm getting a bit defensive over this.  Since no one linked to anyone making this kind of arguement and I've made arguments that could be twisted into this sort of straw man, I find this whole diary to be about me.  Ok, I'm not really that conceited or paranoid, I know it isn't literally about me, but about people making the same point I'm making; close enough.

If people would limited themselves to criticizing Obama and his policy on the merits this would go a whole lot easier.  Heck, I might even chime in with agreement!  (Well, not really.  I almost never post in agreement, I just nod my head and move on.  I have to disagree to be motivated enough to post, otherwise I feel I have nothing of interest to say.  But people against the expanded Afghan war could get lots of head nods out of me!)

[ Parent ]
Degree of expansion (0.00 / 0)
If Obama promised to expand some social program by at least X and later doubled or tripled that number, no one here would consider that a lie.  If any conservative tried to make that point we'd laugh at him.

Very good point - my thoughts exactly.

[ Parent ]
For me economic conditions bring nuance (0.00 / 0)
I believe he made most of those promises before the bailout and the whole financial crisis and it serves an important reminder that he never said, "even with double digit unemployment, even if foreclosures don't stop, and even without a serious energy policy, this is most importnat for our national security."

the nuance about the amount of troops you bring up is credible as well and let us not forget Obama talked about getting away from the mindset of war and this amount of escalation in this more turbulent time is directly an unprecedented mindset of war.

In any case (4.00 / 6)
in the end the man is odious for implementing what is a serious escalation of the war. It is of course in the end irrelevant whether we feel betrayed or just furious that he is carrying out in an extreme way a policy he stated in a much more muted form. The end result is that he has well earned our opposition and our contempt. The war as presently conceived is an occupation and a pacification with little relation to al Qaeda. The Taliban deserves our opposition and our efforts to contain and marginalize; but there is no strategic or moral justification for the present military action. It is destructive to the people there, harmful to our soldiers, and to our people at home. It will hasten and magnify our problems at home and abroad and hasten our decline in terms of our ability to play a positive role morally and economically in the world; it will accentuate the economic problems at home and contribute to a lower standard of living. It is open-ended no matter how Obama lies now about timetables and end strategies. In four years there will be sizable forces in Afghanistan and we will not really be out of Iraq. The enmity we garner will be long term. In all it is really an abomination. If we voted for this man and supported him (as I did with serious reservations) it is essential in my opinion that we do our best to defeat him now. There are lines which crossed must take supporters into opponents if principle and policy and not just opportunism and political advantage are important.

Though I don't agree with all you say here (0.00 / 0)
I agree with the soundness of the arguement.  Thank you.  Given the context of this thread, that is worth a recommendation.

[ Parent ]
We are replying to each other at the same time. (0.00 / 0)
See above.

[ Parent ]
That's exactly right (4.00 / 1)
The escalation is vile on the merits, and this debate is the circular firing squad taken to new levels of absurdity.

Especially since the campaign was largely finished by the time the crisis hit and trillions in bailouts were looted from the people.

Such an event renders ALL prior promises or intentions moot where it comes to any major resource and morale investment.

No one has any right to say "stay the course" at that point.

And then, where it comes to Afghanistan itself, there's the fact that according to American military doctrine, written by Petraeus himself, counterinsurgency can't work without a legitimate government ally.

Therefore the fraudulent election and the absolute and irrevocable illegitimacy of the Karzai regime also render all previous "promises", if they ever existed, null and void.

Those who would defend this escalation on ANY ground, political or reality-based, don't have a leg to stand on.

[ Parent ]
I don't feel at all betrayed (4.00 / 5)
The only thing which surprises me even a little bit is how profoundly weak President Obama is turning out to be. Anyone with any sense knew that the only chance a president coming to office in this day and age would have to change anything, even minor bits here and there, would be to mobilize some sort of countervailing political force -- necessarily a populist one -- which he could use to rattle the powers that be, and knock them off their fat centers.

Given Senator Obama's obvious inexperience, he didn't seem a likely candidate to bring such a thing off, but his intelligence, the savvy he showed during the campaign, and his proven ability to mobilize legions of the young and minorities, made it seem at least remotely possible that he could open a path for change once he was elected. The minute he named Rahm Emanuel as his eminence grise, though, it was clear -- to me at least -- that he'd decided to follow the path the Clintons had blazed. Some hopeful folks on the left thought that he might have better luck on that path than they did, but I wasn't one of them.

As it turns out, he appears to have become completely captive to the Washington agenda. Even when he does attempt a modest deviation, as with the Cairo speech, or his plan to close Guantánamo, he's been forced to backtrack. Even if you assert that his current plan for Afghanistan was always his plan -- which I don't believe for a moment -- you'd still have to explain the secret White House double-dealing with the health insurance industry, the transparent machinations surrounding the ousting of President Zelaya in Honduras, the equally transparent garrisoning of Colombia, and all the other business-as-usual horseshit he's been very publicly forced to eat.

Occam's razor suggests a President isolated by his own misplaced self-confidence, and by his choice of powerful allies who turned out -- big surprise -- not to be allies at all. If anyone has a better explanation, I'd be happy to hear it. The only explanation which I'd reject out of hand is that he's no better than Bush. He's manifestly better than Bush, but -- and this is as much our problem as his -- it doesn't seem to make an iota of difference.

being better than Bush (4.00 / 2)
is not setting the bar very high. This is the problem not only with Obama but the entire Democratic Party leadership. They think that being marginally less awful than the Republicans is good enough.

[ Parent ]
I'm not so sure (4.00 / 1)
I don't think that they really believe that. It's more a working hypothesis, I'd say, the unfortunate, but inevitable consequence of an electorate which is both ignorant of history, and lacking in any political imagination worthy of the name.

Anyone who looks at the last two hundred years of the struggle between capitol and labor, between secular humanism and revealed religion, or between imperialism and self-determination, realizes two things. First, that the mechanistic isms of the last century were neither the sail nor rudder which far too many took them to be at the time. Second, the project of human emancipation which began with the Enlightenment is in imminent danger of going down for the third and final time.

And yet, and yet.... Within those apparent failures lie all the intellectual tools, all the moral imperatives needed to power a new future, if only someone would take seriously the task of resurrecting them. When you think about it, the price of repeatedly electing stupid and venal people to govern us is much higher than even our most exquisite cynics realize.

[ Parent ]
He's manifestly better than Bush, but -- and this is as much our problem as his -- it doesn't seem to make an iota of difference. (0.00 / 0)
Yep. Sadly.

[ Parent ]
no matter which election, (0.00 / 0)
no matter who I vote for, no matter which party wins, I get the same policies either Republican straight, or a very close but apparently more palatable version. We are stuck on Groundhog Day every election (November, February big difference). Change,  when it comes, and it must because these policies are heading us in the wrong direction and the consequences while not yet visible will boil to the surface in some which way, will probably not come from an election or from a response of our elected government. I am increasingly of the opinion that our system  of government, in the age when such big amounts of money are needed for campaigns, does not have the flexibility to respond to people's changing wants and needs or indeed even to changing crises in the world. Big money funds its think tanks which have the goals of shaping policies not to maximize benefits for the people but to preserve and increase the wealth and power of those who have it; their thinking is enshrined in the Village-think by other institutions media and pundits also in the same parade and on the same general payroll; and then implemented by politicians of both parties funded from the same source. I do not think a political system in which this is the nexus of power and decision-making and selecting personnel (i.e, elected officials) can be a responsive form in the era of such large money. The system has worked well in the past but it is a different system now. Effectively we have in many ways, on the essential matters, a one-party system with two groups (Dems and Republicans) vying for direct control and for great personal gain. Bush was so bad that I thought dumping Republicans was really important. But Obama is really awful.

[ Parent ]
NO BETTER than Bush!!! (0.00 / 0)
He's Bush's Brain II.

[ Parent ]
In a post by (0.00 / 0)
Meteor Blades on dkos he said that there have been 33,000 troops sent since March.
To carry out the policies the President has chosen, 30,000 more U.S. troops will be sent, adding to the 33,000 sent since March, and setting the full deployment at 98,000.

If you figure that a brigade is anywhere from 2,500 - 5,000 troops, he'll be sending almost ten times as many troops as he talked about during his campaign.

That's an order of magnitude.

I would think that he'd at least take some time to explain why his position has changed so much and why he decided to keep his promise in multiples.

I think he was out-manuevered by McCrystal... (0.00 / 0)
... and he didn't have the balls to fire the guy for blatant insubordination.  Obama didn't have the guts to stand up to the generals.  I have the feeling he was thinking about it, which is why there was a long delay before announcing the escalation, but in the end he went all in, sending virtually every available soldier.

So now he's on the path to becoming LBJ without the accomplishments.

[ Parent ]
Obama doesn't seem to take his campaign very seriously (0.00 / 0)
For the record I don't think sending 47 000 as opposed to 10 000 troops to Afghanistan qualifies as "breaking a campaign promise", in the sense that there is no inherent contradiction between the two.  If Obama had said, "I will only send 10 000 troops, and no more", it'd be a different story.

Like what Mark Matson said - if Obama promised during the campaign to spend X on education or something, and instead ended up proposing 2X or 3X in his budget, would anyone here be unhappy with that, let alone blasting it as a campaign betrayal?  Seems like hair-splitting to me.

And the whole "branding" argument is a non sequitur.  Obama never labeled himself as a pacifist or suggested he was against all increased military activity, even if many who held those sentiments gravitated towards him solely because of his better record on the Iraq war.

That said, Obama doesn't seem to take his campaign promises very seriously, as his numerous flip-flops and reversals on health care issues have shown.  It makes me not want to take his campaign proposals seriously.


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