Back in late 1979 and early 1980, Jimmy Carter finally got a clue. To be sure, it took the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan—the first ever direct use of Soviet troops outside of its post WWII sphere of influence in Eastern Europe—to get Peanut-Brain to concentrate adequately. He announced the Carter Doctrine (declaring that any Soviet move toward the Persian Gulf would constitute an attack on U.S. vital interests), called for increased defense spending, and announced a boycott of the Moscow Olympics. He even read Churchill’s The Gathering Storm, figuring out, rather late, that dictatorial powers need to be resisted stoutly. In other words, he finally seemed to acquire an ordinate fear of Communism.
Barack Obama has been making Carter look pretty good by comparison from day one of his administration. Has Obama finally had his Jimmy Carter moment? Today Obama will announce that he is reversing his decision to withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan. News reports indicate he will keep U.S. forces there until after his presidency ends. But did he wake up and smell the coffee? These paragraphs from the Wall Street Journal report out early today gives an important clue:
But a spike in insurgent violence and uneven performance by Afghan forces led top U.S. commanders to openly question the president’s strategy and brought exhortations from U.S. allies to change course. This left Mr. Obama little choice but to scuttle his plan to wind down U.S. involvement, marking another setback for his efforts to untangle the U.S. from more than a decade of war. (Emphasis added.)
Another senior administration official pointed to indications from some North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies that they want to maintain their presence in Afghanistan.
At a NATO meeting in Brussels last week, nearly all U.S. allies signaled a preference for a higher troop presence, U.S. officials attending the session said.
You know things are bad when our European allies want to keep forces in Afghanistan. Doubtless they looked at the wave of “migrants” flooding their country and wondered what the next wave will look like if Afghanistan and the rest of the region sinks into Syrian-level chaos and Islamic violence.
I doubt Obama has fundamentally changed his mind at all. But the political risk of the Middle East becoming even more unstable is too great a political risk to his long-term legacy to tolerate. Facts are stubborn things. “Leading from behind” indeed, as Michael Ramirez notes here: