However, all three options seem unfeasible. Conscription as the last resort is absolutely an option that would immediately be dismissed because unless it is dictated by a clear-cut threat to national security it will not be accepted as an indispensible measure of self defense--let alone conscribing Americans for a war on Iraq that has been unpopular with them since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, or for the war on Afghanistan that is increasingly becoming unpopular among them. According to the latest CNN Poll of Polls (58% against), it is gradually eroding Obama's popularity, which dropped to 50% from 57% in July (Wall Street Journal and NBC News poll on September 23).
The other two options, namely privatization or nationalization of both wars, are evidently contradictory. While Iraqis or Afghanis may swallow a delayed withdrawal of foreign military troops until they can develop their own defense forces, they will in no way accept a mercenary alternative to such troops in the meantime, nor would they perceive collaborators who were brought into both countries by the invading armies themselves as turned "nationalists" overnight.
Obama's strategy, announced on the inauguration of his administration, was to exit U.S. combatants from Iraq and move these same combating resources to Afghanistan to solve his military manpower problem. Exit from Iraq is proving untenable and the war on Afghanistan is proving unsustainable without immediate commitment of substantially more troops.
Obama is now obviously stuck between what he described as the U.S "war of choice" on Iraq and the U.S. "war of necessity" on Afghanistan, which practically has become His "war of hard choice" -- according to Richard Haas, the CFR president in a recent article. Both wars however are still insistently sustained by Obama whose exit strategy from both is still blurred in Iraqi and Afghani eyes as much as in U.S. eyes.
Viewed from the battle grounds of the U.S. global wars on terrorism or otherwise, which ironically are only fought in the Middle East, Obama's strategies seem indecisive and confused. On Iraq, he pledged in his UN speech to "ending the war" and "to remove all American troops by the end of 2011," but "responsibly," until the Iraqis "transition to full responsibility for their future," which practically translates to a long term strategic commitment.
Nine months in office, Obama is still wondering: "Are we doing the right thing?" "Are we pursuing the right strategy?" If Obama has yet to decide on a strategy on Afghanistan, in hindsight, one might ask: why did he send there seventeen thousand additional troops earlier this year!
For too long now the Middle East has been paying in blood for U.S. experimental and contradictory foreign policies, which ostensibly seek peace where war is the only option to make the Israeli occupying power, for instance, succumb to a just and lasting peace in the Palestinian -- Israeli conflict, and launch war where peace is only attainable through an end to U.S.-led wars as the cases are in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, Obama at the UN on Wednesday seemed poised to promise the Middle East more of the same when he pledged he "will never apologize" for defending the interests "of my nation," and yet lamented "anti-Americanism," which is exacerbated by sustaining such counterproductive policies.
*Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab journalist based in Bir Zeit, West Bank of the Israeli -- occupied Palestinian territories.