Who Liked Obama’s Afghanistan Speech?

Not many people! There’s nowhere near as much air cover for this as there’s been for other Obama foreign policy statements. What changed? The facts on the ground, sure. Growing out of those facts were declining poll numbers for the effort. And growing out of those poll numbers – ambitious Republican candidates who have an interest in painting Obama as a failure. Tim Pawlenty :

Look how he phrased the outcome of this war: He said we need to end the war ‘responsibly.’ When America goes to war, America needs to win. We need to close out the war successfully, and what that means now is not nation-building. What it means is to follow Gen. Petraeus’ advice and to get those security forces built up to the point where they can pick up the slack as we draw down.

The last part of that doesn’t ring true – we think Petraeus was set against this? Jon Huntsman:

The war in Afghanistan is an asymmetrical war, and our approach ought to adjust accordingly. Our troops have done everything we’ve asked them to. They’ve routed the Taliban, dismantled Al Qaeda, and facilitated democratic elections.

Now it is time we move to a focused counter-terror effort which requires significantly fewer boots on the ground than the President discussed tonight.

We need a safe but rapid withdrawal which encourages Afghans to assume responsibility, while leaving in place a strong counter intelligence and special forces effort proportionate to the threat.

Mitt Romney:

We all want our troops to come home as soon as possible, but we shouldn’t adhere to an arbitrary timetable on the withdrawal of our troops from Afghanistan. This decision should not be based on politics or economics. 

Memories! It was Romney in 2008 who got bogged down in a debate with John McCain about whether or not he supported a timeline for exiting Iraq. No one’s pushing from the hawkish right on this now (the occasional open letter signed by Liz Cheney doesn’t count), but attacking a “timeline” is as close as we get.