On Thursday, President Obama delivered a mostly upbeat assessment of war progress in Afghanistan, declaring that U.S. and allied forces had stopped the Taliban's momentum. "We are on track to achieve our goals," Obama said, summing up his administration's latest review. Tough combat is expected to continue for years, so if Obama starts bringing troops home next summer as promised, he'll likely start with modest numbers. Still, with a record 60 percent of Americans now saying the war in Afghanistan has not been worth fighting, pressing on could prove politically costly. Will the war be Obama's undoing? (Watch Obama discuss "significant progress" in the war)
Yes, Afghanistan could be Obama's downfall: "Barack Obama puts a brave face on it," says Simon Tisdall in The Guardian. But if he "allows his generals to drag their feet, and the casualties keep mounting," he risks losing the left. If he lets next summer's limited withdrawal turn into a rush to get out, "Republicans whose votes have sustained Obama will desert him." Either way there's a real danger that the war will spark a "political meltdown" that will "break" Obama's presidency.
"Will the Afghanistan war break Obama's presidency?"
No. We can win this fight: Everybody's getting "combat fatigue," says Bruce Riedel in The Daily Beast. The war is now the longest in U.S. history, and casualties are rising. But we've taken back the momentum from the Taliban, and our drones have al Qaeda on the run. Obama's strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan has brought us back from "the precipice of defeat and strategic disaster," so while he's "right to be modest" he's "also right to stay on course."
"The Afghan strategy is working"
A good strategy might not be good enough: "Taliban leaders surely know that North Vietnam won the Vietnam War not in Vietnam but in America," says George Will in The Washington Post. North Vietnam's Tet Offensive turned the American public "decisively" against that war; if the Taliban manage a similar "spike in violence," they might accomplish something "comparable." Obama is not letting such "political calculations" come before national security. But "this presidential virtue could imperil his presidency."
"Could there be a Tet Offensive in Afghanistan?"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Why the West should let Russia have eastern Ukraine
- Why you should stop believing in evolution
- The dangers of our passionless American life
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
- The real reason conservatives should be outraged that police killed a white youth
- How China sparked an Asian frenzy for killer submarines
- 10 things you need to know today: August 30, 2014
- Girls on Film: Belle is one of the most groundbreaking, joyous movies of the summer
- The amazing resurrection of Mitt Romney
Subscribe to the Week