When General Stanley McChrystal took command of the War in Afghanistan on June 15, 2009, he did so at President Obama’s request and with the understanding that he needed to evaluate our military conditions in the region and report back to the president within two months.
McChrystal quickly assessed the situation in Afghanistan and sent back a report warning the administration that we had but a relatively short period of time — 12 months — in which to send more troops to the region and regain control of the war effort.
Since McChrystal filed his report, almost 3 of the 12 months he said we had to turn the tide in Afghanistan have passed without Obama deciding on either of the two requests McChrystal made: first, to choose a new population-based classic counterinsurgency strategy for Afghanistan and second, to choose to provide sufficient assets — i.e., an increase of about 40,000 U.S. troops — to ensure it could succeed.
The longer McChrystal is made to wait the clearer it becomes that our community-organizer-and-chief has already made his decision — and that decision is indecision.
Until now, the White House has blamed its indecision on the premise that Obama has been waiting to see the outcome of the Afghan elections. But when that outcome was evident on Monday, November 2, with Hamid Karzai winning another presidential term, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs could only assure us that a decision on sending more troops would be made in a few weeks.
Which has been Gibbs’ refrain week after week.
Meanwhile, even NPR news sees that with the Afghan elections over, the door is open to step up our military efforts in Afghanistan: “[This gives] President Obama…a green light to move ahead in redefining and setting an Afghanistan strategy that works in terms of international involvement here.”
And the liberals at NPR aren’t the only Democrats who recognize that this has become Obama’s war to lose. In an MSNBC appearance on October 1, 2009, Representative Ike Skelton (D-Mo.), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said: “At the end of the day, [President Obama] should heed the request of the commander [on] the ground." Skelton even went so far as to say “he had ‘never heard of a war’ where a president refuses to send resources where troops could prevail.”
With all due respect to Skelton, I have heard of a war where the president refused to send the resources needed to prevail: It was called Vietnam, and just as now it was run poorly by a Democrat President (Lyndon Baines Johnson) who was so absorbed with the passage of his domestic agenda that he ignored what our military personnel needed in order to achieve victory.
And while Johnson’s domestic goals were summed up in his “Great Society,” a.k.a. “war on poverty,” legislation, Obama’s chief distraction is his determination to push health care reform through the House and Senate before Republicans can make gains in the 2010 elections.
Therefore, although there are some “56-thousand U.S. troops…in [Afghanistan]” at present, the lives of whom depend on our getting more feet and guns on the ground immediately, Obama is indifferent.
This all gets surreal when we remember that it was none other than candidate Obama who spent the 2008 presidential campaign telling us that President George W. Bush was losing the War in Afghanistan by focusing too much on Iraq. And it was candidate Obama who promised again and again that if elected he would put the focus back on Afghanistan, which he described as “the right war, in the right place, at the right time.”
Since then, of course, Obama’s tune has changed, and he has exchanged talking tough for confessing that he’s uncomfortable “using the word ‘victory’” to describe his goals for us in Afghanistan.
Are you more comfortable using the word “defeat” to describe what’s going to happen to us in Afghanistan, Mr. President?
American soldiers and their families are worried sick about what kind of approach we’ll finally take in Afghanistan. And military leaders who know what that approach should be, men like General McChrystal, are being shut out of the decision making process by our haughty president.
Looking at it from where I sit, I don’t need the White House press secretary to tell me to expect a decision “in a few weeks.” Obama’s decision is indecision, and the ramifications for our nation and our troops could be horrific.
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