Apparently, after ten months on the job, the commander-in-chief still can’t figure out how to be commander-in-chief. This would be like if almost year after Pearl Harbor President Roosevelt was still seeking input on what to do. According to the Washington Post this morning, Obama has now asked senior officials for a province-by-province analysis of Afghanistan “to help determine which regions are being managed effectively by local leaders and which require international help.” He supposedly “wants the clearest possible understanding of what the challenges are to our forces and what is required to meet the challenge.” Fine, go out and get that information. Sounds useful. But why did it take 9 months to know he needed it?!
This is more evidence, that the President might be considering “McChrystal Light”, a strategy which includes protecting portions of the population, putting more emphasis on going after al Qaeda (something pushed for by the Vice President), but authorizing far less troops than the general asked for. That doesn’t sound right either.
That would be like saying go ahead and build the house, but you can only have half the budget. Adopting a strategy without fully resourcing a strategy is prescription for disaster. This sounds terribly like President Johnson’s approach to Vietnam where he incrementally increased forces trying to anger neither keep doves or hawks.
Unfortunately, when you adopt incrementally so does the enemy—and you never get ahead of the bad guys. A strategy of compromise is a strategy for disaster. All this news makes it look like the president is shopping for a rationale to justify a commitment that is “politically” acceptable in Washington.
The truth is the Pentagon has been scrutinizing the failures of our AfPak strategy for over two years and the new administration has benefited from all the work done before it took the White House. The argument that we need more study, or that half measures will do, is wearing pretty thin. We need a decision and pretty compelling rationale to support it…other than it is half way between Biden and McChrystal.