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Why Afghanistan Could Upend Obama's Re-election Strategy | The Nation

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Katrina vanden Heuvel

Katrina vanden Heuvel

Politics, current affairs and riffs and reflections on the news.

Why Afghanistan Could Upend Obama's Re-election Strategy

Editor's Note: Each week we cross-post an excerpt from Katrina vanden Heuvel's column at the WashingtonPost.com. Read the full text of Katrina's column here.
 
The outlines of President Obama’s reelection strategy are becoming more distinct. He’ll bet that the faltering recovery has enough momentum to sell, particularly to college-educated suburban independents. He’ll find a way to cut a deal with Republicans on deficits that doesn’t completely derail the recovery.

At the same time, he’ll draw bright lines to defend largely social issues that appeal to both his base and to independents—ending “don’t ask, don’t tell”; defending Planned Parenthood and family planning; protecting the environment. He’ll contrast Republican promises for more tax cuts to the rich with his plan to invest in areas vital to our future—education, innovation, infrastructure.

But in addition to the economy, the disastrous war in Afghanistan threatens to upend this game plan.

Afghanistan is the “good war” that has gone bad. Obama bought into the fantasies of Gen. David Petraeus and the new generation of counterinsurgency mavens, who argued that we could fend off the Taliban, hunt the remnants of Al Qaeda, and build an operating nation in Afghanistan, with a government that could provide minimum security for its people. The president added his own caution: we’d have a surge but begin to withdraw US forces in July of this year.

But it all went bad.

Read the full text of Katrina's column here.

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