Obamastan

Why the right is wrong about Obama and Afghanistan.

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Pete Souza/The White House via Getty Images

To hear conservative critics tell it, the United States had everything in Afghanistan under control until President Barack Obama took office and messed with George W. Bush’s ingenious combination of open-ended warfare and diplomacy-by-silent treatment.

Unchastened by the hasty run-up to the Iraq War, for a solid month, an assortment of foreign-policy players has tried to hector Obama into announcing a decision on the way forward in Afghanistan. Commanding General Stanley McChrystal suggested that anything less than approval of his request for 40,000 troops was “shortsighted.” Sen. John McCain told CNN that Obama has no room to mold his strategy because “the great danger now is a half-measure” trying “to please all ends of the political spectrum.”

Now, Dick Cheney—who played a central role in deciding to break off the military’s hot pursuit of Osama bin Laden in 2003—has accused Obama of “dithering” on Afghanistan.

But Obama’s no dove. The same people on the right who supported George W. Bush’s failed prosecution of the first seven years of the war is now prejudging Obama’s war policy based on a set of faulty assumptions:

Obama wants out of Afghanistan.

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