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Whether you like it or not, if you voted for President Obama last year, you are partly responsible for this strategy. That’s not entirely a bad thing depending on your position on the war, but it’s worth repeating that the president never spoke of drawing down our forces in the Af-Pak region during the campaign, nor did he mention such a thing during his first 10 months in office.

So last night’s announcement shouldn’t come as a shocker.

Admittedly, during the campaign, he never specifically said that he would drop 30,000 additional soldiers into the war. And while he never specified the exact “30,000” number, he also never said anything about a July, 2011 date for beginning the withdrawal either. In other words, and unlike the Bushies, he’s making adjustments to his strategy based upon what’s happening on the ground rather than holding himself to a firm “smoke ’em out” meets “bring ’em on” endless and unchanging war policy. And, suffice to say, this underscores his considerably non-Bushie penchant for thought, rationality and informed deliberation.

Nevertheless, this thing is painfully confounding.

Yes, I obviously voted for President Obama. Yes, I understand how this strategy is, in fact, a vast departure from the Bush administration’s conduct and strategic planning (insofar as the Bushies “planned” anything — all gut). Yes, I understood the president’s hawkish language about “the good war.”

But I’m very reluctant to support this decision, because history has proved that similar plans have too easily gone horribly awry. Be that as it may, I just don’t see how the president’s solution can be avoided.

The war in Afghanistan is like a terrible form of cancer. No one wants it, but I don’t know how we can avoid dealing with it without facing serious consequences. I don’t want an escalation. I don’t want more casualties. I don’t want more spending when Congress is being miserly on domestic programs. I want the thing to end. I didn’t even want it to start in the first place.

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Obama’s Afghanistan Plan: 30,000 Troops, Marines To Be First Wave

JENNIFER LOVEN and ANNE GEARAN | 12/ 1/09 10:55 AM | AP

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama plans to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan over six months, a senior administration official said Tuesday, on an accelerated timetable that would dispatch several hundred Marines by Christmas.

With the full complement of troops expected by next summer, the heightened pace of Obama’s military deployment in the 8-year-old war would appear to match the 2007 troop surge in Iraq, which rushed 20,000 combat forces to quell violence there. The Afghan surge would similarly aim to reverse Taliban gains and secure population centers in the volatile south and east parts of the country.

In his prime-time speech to the nation Tuesday night at West Point, Obama will tie the escalation to an exit strategy, laying out a rough timeframe and some dates for when the main U.S. military mission would end. Public opinion in this country has become increasingly divided over American participation in the stalemated war.

Obama will try to sell a skeptical public on his bigger, costlier war plan by coupling the large new troop infusion with an emphasis on stepped-up training for Afghan forces that he says will allow the U.S. to leave.

The new infusion of troops had been envisioned to take place over a year, or even more, because force deployments in Iraq and elsewhere make it logistically difficult, if not impossible, to go faster.

Instead, Obama directed his military planners to make the changes necessary to speed up the Afghanistan additions, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the details had not yet been announced.

Military officials said at least one group of Marines is expected to deploy within two or three weeks of Obama’s announcement, and would be in Afghanistan by Christmas. Larger deployments wouldn’t be able to follow until early in 2010.

The initial infusion is a recognition by the administration that something tangible needs to happen quickly, officials said. The quick addition of Marines would provide badly needed reinforcements to those fighting against Taliban gains in the southern Helmand province, and could lend reassurance to both Afghans and the U.S. public.

MORE HERE

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