Political Moves on Afghanistan Give Obama a Bump

As distasteful as some in the GOP might find it, President Obama's success in finding and killing Osama bin Laden has given the Democratic president an unusual authority on national security.

But bin Laden isn't the only reason a recent GWU/Politico poll has Obama leading Romney by 13 points on national security, Peter Beinart says.

As NATO agreed this week to Obama's timetable to withdraw from Afghanistan by 2014, Beinart, writing in The Daily Beast, suggests that the president got another boost by playing the politics of Afghanistan well. The president could have objected to sending more troops to the country in 2009 (which books by David Sanger and Bob Woodward indicate was his preference), but the political fallout from admitting we'd "lost Afghanistan" and a public fight with the top military brass would have been messy. Beinart writes:

Instead, Obama kicked the can down the road, delaying the public admission of defeat until now, by which point America’s failure is so obvious that barely anyone bothers to object. Essentially, he played rope-a-dope, giving Petraeus & Co. the chance to prove what one suspects Obama already believed: that counterinsurgency in Afghanistan had no chance.

While that might be good politics, Beinart writes, "political victories can carry a human price."

Read his entire article here.

Obama photo by Jim Young/Reuters