Where I'm coming from: I put up the anti-Iraq war lawn sign in 2002, but not much more. I didn't do anything before the surge in 2006. My general feeling about it was defeatist. But this time around, my attitude is going to be different.
Thankfully, the situation is different as well. There is a better chance to prevent more Americans from being shipped to Afghanistan now. Not because a Democratic President and Congress is inherently less likely to be militaristic and interventionist, but because their base is solidly against the war. 75% of Democrats oppose the Afghan war. The Washington politicians in power will - at the very least - have to honestly face opposition now.
But it's not just Democrats - 57% of Americans also oppose it. If this were any other issue with this much antagonism, the debate would be how to end the policy, not how to continue it, and certainly not how much to expand it. But a war billed as vital to national security is different. While there are some good signs, it will still be a difficult fight against digging deeper in Afghanistan.
Update after the jump.
UPDATE: The first two articles linked are from around the first of September, when I started writing this post. On the 18th, Reuters posted a new story that said General McChrystal has decided what his request will be, but will hold off giving it to the President.
"We're working with Washington as well as the other NATO participants about how it's best to submit this," said the spokesman, Lieutenant-Colonel Tadd Sholtis, declining to give details of the contents.If anybody thinks that there are no politics in military reports - the asking for, the contents, and the delivery - they are completely naive. General David Petraeus certainly did not pick September 11, 2007 to give his testimony to Congress about "progress" in Iraq for any military reasons. However, the situation today is much better now in this regard as well. Instead of the Bush43 administration orchestrating military announcements for maximum political effect (see Iraq war, 2002 PR rollout), Obama is feeling Congress up, I mean out, for how many troops he can ask for without risking a quick denunciation of the entire mission in Afghanistan. Very tricky politics here, and it could be good or bad that most attention will focused on health care or some other crazy teabagger stuff.
He said it might be "a few weeks" before McChrystal sent his request to Washington or NATO's Brussels headquarters.
One piece of definite good news is that Reuters used the word "escalate" without blinking:
The Pentagon has already doubled the size of the U.S. force in Afghanistan this year under an escalation strategy begun under President George W. Bush and ramped up under Obama.Maybe they've been using it for a while, but I haven't seen it anywhere else that I remember. In any case, kudos to Reuters. How many people know that the number of U.S. forces in Afghanistan have doubled?