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Afghanistan: Barack W. Bush?
 
Barack Obama.
Barack Obama.
Corbis

Amid charges that his commitment to "change" is crumbling, an increasingly unpopular President Obama took the stage at West Point on Tuesday to reveal his plan to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan — a strategy that commentators on both the left and right are dismissing as a replay of Bush's Iraq surge. It is fair or accurate to compare Obama’s attempt to end an inherited war with George W. Bush’s policies in Iraq? (Watch NBC's report on Obama’s troop surge in Afghanistan)

Obama's plan evokes Bush at his most despicable:
"This year's Nobel Peace laureate just escalated the war in Afghanistan for the second time," says Rachel Maddow on her MSNBC talk show. Though Obama tried to frame the troop increase in his own terms, he called Afghanistan a preventative war. And "that's the Bush doctrine in all its Orwellian extremism…the concept of America at war, globally, indefinitely, against anyone at our own digression." (Watch the clip from "The Rachel Maddow Show")

Same words, different president: If you compare Obama's Tuesday’s address with Bush’s January 2007 speech outlining his Iraq "surge," says Glenn Greenwald in Salon, you’d be hard pressed to find anything "new and innovative" in Obama’s rhetoric. The best you can say is that at least Obama wasn’t "wearing a fighter pilot costume."
"Obama’s exceedingly familiar justifications for escalation"

Obama is patently not Bush: "Those who are saying that Obama reminds them of Bush" should reread Obama’s speech, says Michael Signer in Democracy Arsenal. This was a "resolutely pragmatic" president clearly committed "to deliberation and to fact-based policy," not a Bush-style "crusader."
"Steely, sober, serious"

True, "Obama is not Bush," and that’s too bad: Obama's mistake is declaring a 2011 deadline for withdrawal, says Michael Rubin in Forbes. "[President Bush's] Iraq's surge succeeded because Bush convinced Iraqis that he would not subvert his commitment to victory to politics." Obama has removed "the psychological force from his surge...if Obama is preparing to cut-and-run — which, fairly or unfairly, is how Pakistani generals will read his speech," he is laying the ground for Pakistan to emerge as the "dominant player" in 2011.
"Not nearly enough on Afghanistan"

 

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