Saturday, October 10, 2009

Blessed Are The Peacemakers

As I expected, the most current articles posted at Watching America reflect the world's response to President Obama's selection as this year's winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. Most of those articles indicated the surprise I felt on reading the news of the award, and most suggested what I did yesterday: that the award seemed to express more of a hope than a reward. President Obama himself indicated that he believed the award was a "call to action" more than anything else.

Well, that call will soon be an insistent one, as this article from Germany's Financial Times-Deutschland makes clear. The opinion piece was published October 4, 2009, well before the Nobel Committee's announcement, and certainly showcases the dilemma President Obama faces with respect to the war in Afghanistan.

What happens next in Afghanistan is entirely dependent on Barack Obama’s decision, and he is considering the big picture. His military commanders on the ground are asking for more troops for a counter-insurgency strategy like the one successfully employed in Iraq: instead of hunkering down on large installations from which troops emerge to pursue the Taliban, smaller units are to live among the people in order to protect them. In this way, trust can be built among the population and regions made safer.

But the price for such a strategy is high: more troops who – at least in the beginning – will be exposed to far greater risk. ...

If, on the other hand, Obama decides to continue on with his ineffectual policy of muddling through, a course based solely on future withdrawal, then Germany needs to begin reducing its participation now. Nothing significant can be accomplished; there is no reason to commit the German army to fighting a protracted and bloody rear guard action.

Although the decision must be made by President Obama, that decision affects more than US troops and US foreign policy. Our NATO allies also have a stake in the "Good War," the war Mr. Obama stated was a noble one and one that should be won during his campaign. Now, even our closest allies have their doubts on the war, especially the way it has been fought the past eight years.

Consequently, after the Nobel award, President Obama finds himself between a rock and a hard place. Hopefully he recognizes that and, in concert with our allies, begins the difficult task of winding down the war in ways other than bombing Afghanistan and Pakistan back to the Middle Ages. If he truly believes that the Nobel Peace Prize was a call to action, he will find a way to end our disgraceful involvement and will negotiate a peace with the Taliban and every other element in Afghanistan under the aegis of the United Nations.

If, on the other hand, he gives into those in the military who want an increase in troops and an increase in violence, then he will have sullied that prestigious award and, given the American public's growing discontent with ongoing war status, diminished his chance for a second term.

It's a tough call, Mr. President, but you promised you could handle tough decisions. Get to it.

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Anonymous Lisa said...

I think the Nobel Prize is an honor for the President, he was very gracious about accepting it.

7:25 PM  

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