11/25/09 — Getting out: Decision about what to do next is about only certain promises

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Getting out: Decision about what to do next is about only certain promises

President Barack Obama has announced that he has all the information he needs to make a decision on what is coming next in Afghanistan.

And, his spokespeople say, he will make the announcement of what the nation's plan will be for that fight this coming week.

Preliminary indications are that he will make no one really happy -- not the liberal contingent that wants to pull out and not the conservatives who would like to see an all-out, get-the-job-done-once-and-for-all plan.

So, it is likely that the president will come in somewhere in the middle.

The analysis of the intelligence of that plan is not something most Americans can really judge effectively.

We do not have access to all the intelligence information, and we are not there on the ground to actually see what works and what doesn't. We do not have the perspective necessary to make a broad-reaching and long-term decision about battle plans and troop levels.

But as the president takes this last weekend to ponder, he should do two things:

First, stop referring to former President George W. Bush. The increased push and new focus of the war in Afghanistan was President Obama's decision. The resulting concerns are his problem to handle. There is no one to jab, no one to blame. This is what happens when you are commander in chief.

Second, the president should remember that this is not about campaign promises or stump speeches -- and that any decision should not include any consideration of what effect any option will have on the 2010 mid-term elections, or beyond.

When more than 3,000 people were killed in this country because of a terrorist plot and attack, we promised as a nation to make sure that nothing like that ever happened again. That meant new ways of looking at the world, our borders and who our friends are.

We have also promised since then to not let those American soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who have died in the Middle East down. We promised to finish the mission they started.

Security, honor and speaking up for what's right in a region where there is much that isn't, is the only promise that should matter now. That, and making sure our servicemen and women have the tools and manpower they need to get the job done.

If the president has thought about all that, then, he really is ready to set a new course and to make a decision about what is best -- not for the world, but for the citizens he has sworn to serve.

Published in Editorials on November 25, 2009 10:51 AM