This has been a difficult election season for Fox News. Among the most enduring media images of the last few days of the election are Karl Rove late on election night angrily denying that Ohio, and thus the presidency, had gone to President Obama, and Dick Morris only a few days before the election confidently predicting a Romney landslide. Morris later tried to explain away his mistake after the election by claiming he had done it to create enthusiasm among Republican voters. The incidents involving Rove and Morris, both of whom work as both commentators on Fox and political consultants to conservative clients, are obviously embarrassing for Fox, but also raise the question of whether the network has outlived its value, even to the Republican Party.
Obama's actions were a necessary response to an immediate problem, but they also raise bigger questions about the future of the war in Afghanistan. The firing of McChrystal brought the effort in Afghanistan back into reasonably sharp focus. John McCain, for example, questioned the wisdom of Obama's withdrawal deadline of mid-2011. Criticisms like McCain's will likely grow stronger over the next twelve months as it becomes increasingly, and predictably, clear that the US will not meet its goals in Afghanistan before this time.
Thus, at any given moment, the best option is to begin withdrawing troops from Iraq, but because there are always such immediate and negative consequences for doing that, it is easy to postpone this decision. Another possible option would be to recognize that the effort in Iraq cannot realistically be achieved in a few more months or years and to prepare for a longer commitment in Iraq or as Ricks puts it “30,000 to 50,000 United States service members in Iraq for many years to come.” This approach is also flawed because even a longer commitment would be far from a guarantee of success and because it is hard to imagine the American people supporting an essentially open-ended commitment in Iraq that could be measured in decades, not months, As Ricks’ analysis shows, perhaps inadvertently, while the decision in Iraq is not easy, it is clear.