News & Politics

Will Obama Be Swept Up in the Momentum of Afghanistan Escalation?

Breaking down two important opinion pieces on the war.

Yesterday saw two important opinion pieces go up regarding Obama and Afghanistan. Bob Herbert and Tom Hayden agree that Obama will own Afghanistan from day one.

Herbert says that with pressing domestic problems looming, Obama can’t afford to escalate in Afghanistan. Herbert calls Afghanistan a quagmire.

What’s the upside to the U.S., a nation in dire economic distress, of an escalation in Afghanistan? If we send 20,000, or 30,000, or however many thousand more troops in there, what will their mission be?


Our interest in Afghanistan is to prevent it from becoming a haven for terrorists bent on attacking us. That does not require the scale of military operations that the incoming administration is contemplating. It does not require a wholesale occupation. It does not require the endless funneling of human treasure and countless billions of taxpayer dollars to the Afghan government at the expense of rebuilding the United States, which is falling apart before our very eyes.

Herbert speculates that Obama wants escalation in order to prove his toughness. Tom Hayden expands on that point, reminding us that Democrats have been calling Afghanistan the “good war” since at least 2004. But what good is hawkishness in a conflict that has no definitive military solution?