- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 6, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, is right to be concerned over President Obama’s announcement of a withdrawal date in Afghanistan (“Senators scrutinize Obama’s war plan,” Page 1, Thursday). The caveat - that the date will be subject to an evaluation of the situation on the ground before actual withdrawal - gives our enemy a clear course of action to influence that evaluation. I believe there is a good chance our enemy will adopt a strategy that will give Mr. Obama the situation he needs to justify withdrawal.

Our enemy is not stupid. They know that Mr. Obama wants to be out of Afghanistan before the next presidential campaign gets going in 2011. They also know that the United States is the only force that can prevent them from regaining control of what they consider their country.

If they are smart, they will ratchet down the number and severity of attacks against both military and civilian targets to a level that will permit Mr. Obama to declare success and achieve his real objective - to bug out as soon as possible. The enemy may even pretend to negotiate and make promises to be good and loyal citizens of a democratic Afghanistan.

While taking actions to convince Mr. Obama that his strategy has worked, they will be planning, training and equipping so as to be ready for a decisive offensive. As soon as enough American troops have departed, they can - and most likely will - begin an all-out campaign to destroy the emerging democracy in that country, and they almost surely will succeed.

Mr. Obama once again has proved that he lacks the knowledge and experience to be a wartime leader. The worst result of a premature pullout from Afghanistan will not be the renewed ability of al Qaeda to use the country as a base for carrying out terrorist attacks. Because Mr. Obama is reinforcing the belief that he is a naive and weak president, his administration’s attempts to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon will eventually turn into attempts to decide what to do now that Iran has one.

The Iranian leaders know that Mr. Obama in the end will not use decisive force as a means to prevent Iran’s development of a nuclear weapon. When Iran finally has the weapon, Israel will have to decide what to do. Meanwhile, Mr. Obama will engage in toothless rhetoric and ineffective actions.

Mr. Obama’s strategy might backfire. If our withdrawal is followed by the reimposition of Shariah and the resurgence of al Qaeda, he will be unable to blame the Bush administration. Such an outcome would severely hurt his chances for re-election.

ROBERT WOLPERT

Fairfax


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