What a Difference a Week Makes for Bill Kristol

By Eli Clifton

One day out from Obama’s long-awaited announcement on troop deployments to Afghanistan the White House is getting plenty of criticism from both sides of the aisle.

Democrats, including Rep. David Obey (D-WI), the influential chair of the House Appropriations Committee, have expressed concerns about both the cost of the war and the difficulty of achieving victory in defeating the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Republicans, such as John McCain (R-AZ), have hammered Obama for setting a timeline for troop withdrawals beginning in 18 months.

Despite the widespread lack of enthusiasm, however, the White House has made striking progress in turning around Weekly Standard editor and outspoken Obama critic (and Sarah Palin booster) Bill Kristol.

On November 23rd, Kristol wrote in the Weekly Standard:

”Just what is Barack Obama as president making of our American destiny? The answer, increasingly obvious, is … a hash. It’s worse than most of us expected. His dithering on Afghanistan is deplorable, his appeasing of Iran disgraceful, his trying to heap new burdens on a struggling economy destructive,’’

But in today’s Washington Post Kristol was hailing the new “War President”.

‘’By mid-2010, Obama will have more than doubled the number of American troops in Afghanistan since he became president; he will have empowered his general, Stanley McChrystal, to fight the war pretty much as he thinks necessary to in order to win; and he will have retroactively, as it were, acknowledged that he and his party were wrong about the Iraq surge in 2007 — after all, the rationale for this surge is identical to Bush’s, and the hope is for a similar success. He will also have embraced the use of military force as a key instrument of national power.’’

The extent to which Kristol’s reassessment reflects his political agility, or Obama’s, remains unclear.

Eli Clifton

Eli Clifton reports on money in politics and US foreign policy. He is a co-founder of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. Eli previously reported for the American Independent News Network, ThinkProgress, and Inter Press Service.


One Comment

  1. What Kristol wants is a constant flow of U.S. blood and treasure to combat Islamic movements in the Middle East. As with his late father, the true agenda is to keep the U.S. fighting Israel’s battles. Of course, in the case of Afghanistan it’s more than a stretch to maintain that the Taliban could threaten Israeli security. The real the point is to prevent any lessening of hostility between America and Islam, for this potentially could lead to a united front against Israeli policies in the occupied territories. A secondary objective of Kristol’s is to further U.S. economic and cultural imperialism in the Middle East-South Asia, which he sees as being in America’s interest.

    To make my own view clear, my objection to U.S. imperialism (and U.S. support for Israel) is that it hurts our country. My heart does not bleed for the peoples of the Islamic world, any more than it does for the Israelis. I wish people like Kristol would move to Israel and fight in the front lines, rather than making propaganda to further U.S. entanglement in the region.

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