The greatest dog in the world, Oakley the Amazing Weimaraner, turned 9 two days ago — and one of his dads has been too busy working on Afghanistan troop issue discussions behind the scenes to post a celebratory note to him. I know that Oakley has a large following here — so wanted to let you know that this incredible, smart, and handsome pup is hitting the big time.
I have a lot of pics you haven’t seen of Oakley and his brother and sister, Buddy and Annie. Those will go up soon.
More tonight and tomorrow on Afghanistan. Very interested in not just the reduction in troop “figure” but the context that President Obama surrounds his decision with. That is more important than whatever number is set tonight.
A couple of quick points on Afghanistan. First, Pakistan is threatening the US relationship on all sorts of fronts. Why? Because it can. Pakistan knows that as long as we are conducting a large scale war in Afghanistan, Pakistan has leverage over the US as it controls so many of the supply and logistics choke points — despite being allied to some degree with the folks we are fighting there.
Second, Barack Obama cannot appear to be a tool of the US military or General Petraeus, who has emerged as the stamp of approval or disapproval for some — like John McCain — of what the President decides. This is not healthy for the country. The military executes the President’s strategy, but some in the Pentagon have crossed lines they shouldn’t. Obama needs to show he is in control.
Third, whether Afghanistan gets “fixed” as a nation, or remains broken, is not a strategic problem for the United States. Having the US military look overextended, exhausted, at resource limits encourages our foes to pursue their ambitions and makes our allies think we aren’t dependable when they may need us. Afghanistan cannot be thought of as a silo unto itself. it has become a black hole for money and is sapping US power.
There will be some who criticize the President’s decision on troop reductions as too small — but at least his move tonight will break the back of never-ending escalations. This is the right move to reduce, to turn a corner, and to pivot in a new direction. If the numbers are sound and the strategy articulated sounder — you’ll see me supporting the President.
But we need to hear the speech first, and I will keep my powder dry until then.
But back to Oakley, Happy Birthday!!
— Steve Clemons