My crosstown senator Bob Corker is well advised to use caution here, re the decision whether to expand our troop commitment to Afghanistan:
In Congress, members from both parties are expressing hesitation. Republicans are mostly playing it safe. Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee told NEWSWEEK he’s reserving judgment until he hears how troop levels fit with the president’s overall strategy in Afghanistan. Perhaps sensing Obama’s proclivity for choosing a middle path, Republicans like Corker, along with McCain and South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham, who will both likely support a troop surge, are warning against “half measures,” like committing to a modest troop increase. Graham told NEWSWEEK that’s “the worst of all worlds … Either give the general what he needs or get out. There’s no in between for me.” That dichotomy is precisely the “straw man” Obama cautioned against in his meeting with congressional leaders yesterday.
I’d also add that Corker’s home state–Tennessee–furnishes a disproportionate number of those who go over to fight and come home in coffins. The Blue State government is effectively defended by Red State blood, and how long that state of affairs will go on undisturbed is an open question.
I’m not convinced that there’s a good reason to continue here, either at at high state or at a mediocre state (which would be the worst option of all.) More to the point, I’m not sure that an Ivy League, secular, process driven elite is prepared to effectively deal with a tribal, nepotistic, and religious country like Afghanistan. That’s asymmetrical warfare at its highest, and it’s one that those in the driver’s seat in the U.S. can’t quite get their arms around.