Here are today’s must read opinion and editorial columns.
THE WAY OUT? EDITORIAL
NEW YORK TIMES
Mr. Obama acknowledged Americans’ deep anxiety about this war. But one speech isn’t going to calm their fears. At his best, the president can be hugely persuasive. But we are constantly dismayed by his unwillingness to engage debates early and press them hard. The country needs to hear more from him, and a lot more frequently, about this war and his plans for getting out.
UNPLUGGING THE AFGHAN SURGE EDITORIAL
WALL STREET JOURNAL
Mr. Obama was laying out his re-election theme as a Commander in Chief who ended George W. Bush’s wars and brought the troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan. He could bring the troops home from Iraq because Mr. Bush had already won the surge before Mr. Obama took office. Let’s hope America’s generals can still conjure a similar success from Afghanistan, despite a pre-empted surge and a Presidential march to the exits.
THE HAUNTING OF RICK PERRY BY TA-NEHISI COATES
NEW YORK TIMES
Whatever one thinks of the death penalty, the accounts of those who would seek to conceal the results of their theory should be closely checked. If only for that reason, the prospect of Governor Perry as commander in chief induces a chilling nostalgia. Indeed, choosing a leader of the free world from the ranks of those who sport a self-serving incuriosity is a habit, like crash landings and cock-fights, best cultivated in strict moderation.
THE PRESIDENT MAY BE SABOTAGING HIS OWN AFGHANISTAN STRATEGY EDITORIAL
By announcing these pullouts, Mr. Obama may ease some of the political pressure while still allowing his commanders enough forces to complete the 2014 transition plan. The president’s supporters point out that at the end of 2012, there will still be twice as many U.S. troops in Afghanistan — 68,000 — as when Mr. Obama took office. We hope those prove sufficient. But Mr. Obama’s withdrawal decision, with no clear basis in strategy, increases the risk of failure.
‘MISSION ACCOMPLISHED,’ OBAMA STYLE BY DANA MILBANK
Obama’s handling of terrorism is his strongest area of performance — 69 percent in the Bloomberg poll. The president reminded Americans why they hold this view, “The information that we recovered from bin Laden’s compound shows al-Qaeda under enormous strain,” he said. “We have put al-Qaeda on a path to defeat, and we will not relent until the job is done.” That, again, echoed Bush.
THE DECISIVENESS IN OBAMA’S AFGHANISTAN SPEECH BY DAVID IGNATIUS
The most persuasive argument for the approach the president embraced tonight is that it will keep enough military pressure on Taliban forces to make them consider the wisdom of a negotiated settlement of the war. That’s the crucial strategic benefit of the president’s approach – that it confounds the Taliban expectation that the United States would be gone by the end of this year.
WHAT OBAMA DIDN’T SAY ABOUT LEAVING AFGHANISTAN BY EUGENE ROBINSON
He touched all the right bases — at times with specificity, at times with platitudes — but there was no sense, for me, that anything had fundamentally changed. … “Now we must invest in America’s greatest resource — our people,” Obama said. That sounds great, until you realize that we’re still spending $10 billion a month in Afghanistan.
TROOP WITHDRAWALS DON’T SOLVE WEAKNESSES IN AFGHAN STRATEGY EDITORIAL
Even the least noxious outcome in Afghanistan is likely to be messy and morally compromising. But a supple and determined political strategy may avoid the worst — so that more of Americans’ attention and resources can be redirected to nation-building at home.