TONIGHT Barack Obama heads to West Point, New York, where hea'll unveil his new strategy for the war in Afghanistan in front of a crowd of army cadets. Most of the details are already known: the president will quickly send an additional 30,000 troops to the war zone; he hopes to begin drawing down the American presence starting in July 2011, as Afghan forces take charge; and the new strategy will aim to prevent al Qaeda from returning to Afghanistan or Pakistan. Parts of the strategy should placate the anti-war left, while other parts will please the hawkish right, and yet, as a whole, it may not satisfy people on either side. With the country growing increasingly sceptical of the Afghan operation, Mr Obama has his work cut out for him.
Of course, Steele was right from the start. His truth was the larger one, which is that enough time has elapsed so that the war in Afghanistan can be seen as Barack Obama's. It began, as we all know, under the illustrious George W. Bush, who then got distracted by all those weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and veered off toward Baghdad. But these are mere details, pesky facts with which we need not concern ourselves. The truth is that Obama found this war on his doorstep, took it in, nursed and even escalated it, and swaddled it in his own clothes: more troops, and still more on the way.
Obama is no opponent of military action against Iran. Like Hillary Clinton, he has consistently argued that the war in Iraq has been a diversion from “real” threats such as Iran. Obama has in the past called for missile strikes against Iran should it not buckle to American economic and political pressure. (See “Democratic keynote speaker Barack Obama calls for missile strikes on Iran”)