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Obama agenda: Reaction to last night's speech

The New York Times editorial page: “It was a particular relief to hear him say that “the tide of war is receding” in both Iraq and Afghanistan. But he will need to do a lot more to explain why it is in this country’s strategic interest to stick things out for another three-plus years. And why his drawdown plan has a credible chance of leaving behind an Afghanistan that won’t implode as soon as American troops are gone.” 

The Globe’s editorial page says “Given all the economic, political, and military considerations President Obama had to juggle” his decision “is the least bad option.” But a sound “political strategy” is how success will be measured in Afghanistan, it continues.

Conservative military hawk Bill Kristol: “Why bring home the surge troops by the summer of 2012? It had been widely expected that President Obama would announce the planned removal of some—perhaps even all—of the surge forces by early 2013. No serious person expected a drawdown of all 33,000 troops—one-third of the total force—within about 15 months... Because, one has to conclude, Election Day is November 6, 2012.”

The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank: “The policy itself was no triumph, just a split-the-difference compromise between the slower troop withdrawal from Afghanistan sought by the generals and the faster one many congressional Democrats and a majority of the public desired. But Obama packaged it nicely, wrapped it with a bow and declared, perhaps prematurely, that his “surge” in Afghanistan had been a success.”