President Obama’s first trip to Afghanistan as commander in chief lasted all of six hours, so why choose Air Force One over Skype?
In the wake of President Obama’s unannounced meet-up with his Afghan counterpart and pump-up session with U.S. troops, here’s what pundits are saying about the fly-by-night mission:
“Seldom does a U.S. leader devote more than 24 hours flying to and from a war zone to spend only 6 hours on the ground. But the stakes are enormous,” writes Steven Hurst for The Associated Press. Obama has tripled the number of U.S. forces fighting there but pledged to begin withdrawing troops in July 2011, Hurst notes. “That will be a difficult pledge to keep if [Afghan President Hamid] Karzai doesn't intensify a corruption purge,” he writes.
Daniel Stone, writing for Newsweek, argues Karzai and his government need “hefty motivation…to get things moving. For Obama, there are few better ways to show you’re serious than showing up at someone’s door, ” he writes.
Council of Foreign Relations fellow Walter Russell Mead blogs for Politico that presidents should visit war zones "from time to time" because such trips boost troops’ morale. “While a fly-in visit isn't going to give him much new information, it will give him a somewhat better feel for the mood of the senior Americans and perhaps the Afghan leadership as well,” Mead writes.
Peter Spiegel at The Wall Street Journal writes that Obama is sending a message back home too. “In making this trip, Obama is signaling that the administration’s previous, dominant focus on his signature health-care overhaul – which was enacted last week following a year-long battle — will now give way to addressing a multiplicity of issues he faces domestically and abroad,” he writes.
Blogger Hotairpundit sees a more cynical hand at play. “I would have to say, brilliant move yesterday, making 15 recess appointments right before you leave for Afghanistan knowing that tomorrow's arrival in Kabul would trump yesterday's news. That's Clintonesque...” Hotairpundit writes.