Derrick Ashong
Photo: A. Khoshnam
They say it's lonely at the top. Every once in a while, I watch someone who has reached "the mountaintop" and I can see why.

I listened to President Barack Obama's speech on Afghanistan, and I thought to myself, "Here's a guy who has figured out the perfect way to alienate his allies and aggravate his enemies."

The policy is pretty straightforward: Send more troops to war and tell friend and foe alike approximately when they're coming home.

My Twitter followers were afire with 140-character commentary during the speech, and my Facebook friends have been raising a ruckus ever since (although Tiger Woods has been getting a lot more traction on my Facebook wall, which means either I'm blogging about the wrong issue or my peeps should definitely not be running the country). In a nutshell, the lefties are mad that the president is escalating rather than ending the war (which is exactly what he said he'd do when they voted for him...), and the right-wingers are salty because he's given a timeline for beginning a troop withdrawal. (What? An end to war? Blasphemy!)

I've got to admit, I have a general preference for spending less on blowing things up overseas and more on building things here at home. At a time when Americans are struggling with the highest unemployment rate in decades—a product of the worst economic downturn since pre-WWII—I think it's reasonable to expect the U.S. government to put a heavy priority on investing in "US."

Unfortunately, as much as I'd love to channel all those resources to domestic priorities, one of the realities of governance is you have to be able to effectively do multiple important things at once—sort of like motherhood (or so my mom keeps telling me).

With that in mind, I'm going to give you the quick and dirty on why I am supporting President Obama's decision to escalate the conflict in Afghanistan and why I think you should too. Now, before some of you start a-hollerin', this is definitely not because I support everything the president does. I totally disagreed with him on that one thing, and there was also this other matter that came up during the whatchamacallit last time...

But political biases and peacenik preferences aside, I think this is, in fact, the right course of action, and not because I believe Afghanistan will be a paragon of democracy anytime soon. This conflict is, in fact, largely about Pakistan. And while this begs an obvious question ("Why then are we at war in Afghanistan and not Pakistan?"), the answer is equally simple ("It's complicated.").


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