“Troop morale is down in Afghanistan,” reports the Stars and Stripes, citing Army findings in a new survey that showed ”dramatically decreased unit morale compared with previous years.” According to the study, a major factor in keeping up morale is the amount of “dwell time” spent at home between deployments.
But there’s another factor worth considering — though I base this not on a study, but on a hunch. When was the last time that Barack Obama, as president and commander-in-chief of these troops, dropped by Afghanistan to do his part to buck up morale?
The answer is: Never.
During the presidential campaign last year, trying to burnish his foreign policy credentials, Obama went to Afghanistan as part of a whirlwind nine-day trip to eight countries. He began with Afghanistan because — according to the New York Times account of July 20, 2008 — “he was seeking to highlight what he says is its importance as the key front in the fight against terrorism.”
By now, Obama has been president for almost 10 months, and during that time U.S. troop fatalities in Afghanistan have soared. Last month was the deadliest since the war there began. On Obama’s presidential watch to date, more than 270 U.S. service members have been killed in Afghanistan, and many more have been wounded. While that’s been going on, what’s been on the travel itinerary of the commander-in-chief? He hasn’t been back to Afghanistan since his campaign stop there in the summer of 2008. He has been to Cairo to “reach out” to Muslims. He has been to Copenhagen to lobby for Chicago’s (failed) Olympic bid. He has been to France to commemorate D-Day 65 years ago. He has used his presidential traveling prerogatives for such matters as family time in Chicago, a vacation on Martha’s Vineyard,and a “date night” in Manhattan with Michelle. He is expected to go to Oslo next month to accept the Nobel Peace Prize.
But since becoming president, he has not been to Afghanistan.