THE PLANK DECEMBER 1, 2009
In light of the somewhat vague new report that Obama will set a three-year time line for withdrawal from Afghanistan I just posted this as an update to my earlier preview of Obama's Afghanistan speech:
Given that the new troop number has been leaking for days, a three-year time line for wrapping up the war--CNN describes it as a target time frame "to conclude the war and withdraw most U.S. service members"--would be the big news from tonight's speech. But the question remains how firm that time line is. Will Obama exit no matter what? Even his Iraq exit plan has always been contingent on conditions on the ground (and the deadline has already slipped once). Listen very closely for any loopholes Obama creates to grant himself the flexibility to stay. He may be determined to give it three years and, if it's not doable by then, simply get out. Or he may be determined to create headlines that pacify his liberal base, both on Capitol Hill and in the country at large, and ensure that his escalation receives the political, financial and moral support it will require.
Update: The White House is now denying the CNN report and saying there is no mention of a three-year time line.