Tuesday, October 20, 2009

War of Necessity

During the presidential campaign candidate Obama bashed President Bush for prosecuting the war in Iraq, calling it a distraction from the real threats.  In his Democratic nomination acceptance speech, he excoriated John McCain for his support of the Iraq war:
For while Senator McCain was turning his sights to Iraq just days after 9/11, I stood up and opposed this war, knowing that it would distract us from the real threats we face. When John McCain said we could just "muddle through" in Afghanistan, I argued for more resources and more troops to finish the fight against the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11, and made clear that we must take out Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants if we have them in our sights.
In another speech a month earlier, Obama gave supporters this assurance:
“As president, I will make the fight against al-Qaida and the Taliban the top priority that it should be,” Obama said. “This is a war that we have to win.”
After his election, he quickly replaced General McKiernan with veteran Special Operations commander, General Stanley McChrystal.  In a confidential assessment, McChrystal called for more troops to avert failure in Afghanistan.  The clock is ticking, and the President has not responded.  Indeed, this week, the administration is putting out the line that no decision will be made on additional troops until the Afghanistan election results are finalized. Today Obama welcomed Afghan President Karzai's agreement to a November 7th runoff after a U.N. commission, citing fraud or coercion, threw out nearly a third of the ballots cast for him in the Aug. 20 election.

On Fox News last week (I cannot find the exact quote), Brit Hume asked the question that has been on my mind.  How do the Afghanistan election results inform the decision about troop levels?  Is the administration going to increase troop levels by one number for Karzai and another for Adbullah?  Does that make any sense at all, when your General on the ground is fully aware of the electoral problems in Afghanistan and made his request anyway?

Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates seems to agree.  From Fox News just moments ago:
Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Tuesday that the Obama administration cannot wait for the Afghan election to be resolved before making a decision on troop levels, appearing to be at odds with White House officials who have tied a decision on U.S. strategy to the resolution of the election and political stability.

Gates suggested the election would not have an immediate impact on the overall situation in the country.

He told reporters aboard his plane to Tokyo that the administration cannot "sit on our hands."
New York Times Military Memo yesterday points out the growing frustration among active and retired senior officers and veterans organizations over the administration's protracted deliberations.  Here's just a sample:
A retired general who served in Iraq said that the military had listened, “perhaps na├»vely,” to Mr. Obama’s campaign promises that the Afghan war was critical. “What’s changed, and are we having the rug pulled out from under us?” he asked. Like many of those interviewed for this article, he spoke on the condition of anonymity because of fear of reprisals from the military’s civilian leadership and the White House.
It's time for our Commander in Chief to make a decision.  Our Marines, soldiers, airmen, and sailors deserve no less.

1 comment:

  1. Amen - while Obama plays politics, our young men and women are at risk. Obama is like Carter. Rather than delegate to the experts that he appointed, he has to prove that he is the smartest man in the room and 'analyze' the situation to death. Perhaps the president should spend some time in a foxhole in Afganistan - he would be more decisive.