Thursday, November 11, 2010

Pulling and hauling on a weak President

In this season of Presidential enfeeblement, it's not surprising that the permanent war establishment -- the military, hawkish neo-cons, etc. -- think this is their time to push back against any administration intent to complete withdrawal from Iraq or bring the Afghanistan mess to an end.

And there they are, right on cue, making noises. Here's Secretary of Defense Gates on Iraq:

The U.S. may be open to keeping American troops in Iraq past the end of 2011, the current deadline for withdrawal. Defense Secretary Robert Gates suggested today the timetable could slide,

PBS, 11/9/10

Meanwhile, someone is telling the usually reliable Nancy Youssef at McClatchy that "Obama officials [are] moving away from [the] 2011 Afghan date."

Clearly, war supporters are striking hard at what looks a propitious time for them.

The peace movement needs to understand that this time of Presidential weakness is also the time for us to be raising the temperature about the wars. The President knows that the Democratic base he must solidify for 2012 has had it with overseas adventures that don't plausibly contribute to U.S. safety at home. This is a guy who won office as the only plausible Dem who had not voted for the Iraq disaster. He can't afford to be the target of a Democratic left insurgency against a failed war that dribbles away lives and dollars.

And the White House has shown they understand the threat, quickly getting a denial inserted into the McClatchy story.

The White House vehemently denies that there is any change in policy. "The president has been crystal clear that we will begin drawing down troops in July of 2011. There is absolutely no change to that policy," said Tommy Vietor, a White House spokesman.

The fight over what Obama means is not something peace activists should shy away from. His political advisors are obviously scared of the right -- but they are also scared of us. We have a role to play.

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