The mind of a strategist

Announcing his plans to withdraw 10,000 troops from Afghanistan this year, President Obama declared, “We are starting this drawdown from a position of strength. Al Qaeda is under more pressure than at any time since 9/11.”

Sounds sensible, right? Quit while you’re ahead! Well … imagine what was going through Rick Carlisle’s mind during the fourth quarter of game six of the NBA finals. With Dallas up by eight and less than six minutes to go, do you think his first thought was to bench Dirk Nowitzki?

Of course Carlisle is not facing reelection in 2012. Not surprisingly, part two of Obama’s strategy is to withdraw another 23,000 troops next summer, a few months before the November elections. “Of course, huge challenges remain,” Mr. Obama conceded. “This is the beginning — but not the end — of our effort to wind down this war.”

Whether all of this amounts to a failure of strategy remains to be seen. But at the very least it is (another) failure of rhetoric, from a president once celebrated for his rhetorical powers.

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