In a couple of days president Obama will speak to the nation to announce his Afghanistan strategy. Presumably, he will tell us that several thousand more troops will be part of it. With the signing of that authorization of additional soldiers Mr. Obama will have become what we were hoping he would never be: a "war president."Little will be known of what went on in those "war council meetings" when military advisers and all sort of other "experts" convened around this young president. I am reminded of imagined accounts of what the truculent military advisers told president Kennedy as he pondered what to do with the Soviet build up in Cuba in 1961 - end-of-the-world scenarios were described in detail to impress JFK and hopefully force him to react with the "only" weapon the Soviets would respect - The Bomb! Kennedy, according to so many accounts, resisted and opted for the naval blockade that eventually remedied the crisis. Maybe President Obama will have the same clarity of mind as he makes his decision.
The military also will likely become a major target of criticism if this latest "surge" fails to produce the heads of Osama and Omar. One would suspect that such a result was exactly what convinced Obama to sign on the dotted line - a bit like Bill Clinton's visit to North Korea to "free" the two American journalists. (A cagy and clever political animal as Mr. Clinton would not risk his prestige as a former president on a losing proposition.) Let us hope Mr. Obama channels the smarts of many of his predecessors and chooses right. It would be shameful if he adopted a "surge" policy to placate warmongers such as Cheney and the screaming extreme right of this country.
Editor's note: Obama delivered his speech to the nation on Tuesday night after this issue had gone to press. However he was expected to announce that 30,000 more troops would be heading to Afghanistan in the near future. He was also expected to set a July 2011 timetable for withdrawal.