Tonight President Obama outlined his plans for operations in Afghanistan. The President was right to call the U.S. mission a “war of necessity” in March, and that America must “finish the job.” But even after the commitments from the White House tonight, grave concerns remain that this administration is willing to do all that is needed to win this necessary war.
It is inexcusable that President Obama has taken this long to make a decision. Given that he has been in office over 10 months; the many months General McChrystal has been in theatre; and the critical situation on the ground, the delay has put the mission in graver jeopardy and left American lives unnecessarily at risk. It seems clear that the president has spent months trying to craft a politically acceptable strategy rather than really focusing on the military mission. We have grave concerns that the Administration has inadequately resourced General McChrystal’s strategy, and that the Administration has not dedicated sufficient energy and priority to building-up U.S. forces in the region—which further jeopardizes the ability of our troops to execute their mission.
It has been widely reported that General McChrystal’s original assessment for the number of additional troops to achieve the maximum chance of success was between 60,000 and 80,000. The President’s decision, although certainly better than no new troops at all, falls short of that original assessment. We hope that the President’s plan will succeed, and should do everything in our power to ensure that it does. But if it does not, then we must remember the choices that were available to the President for this fateful decision. He had the chance to turn this war around; if he does not, the result will be his responsibility alone.
Some may argue that if the president does not fully resource his strategy, that “if we’re not in to win, then we should pull out now.” That is a false choice. We must be in to win and do whatever is necessary to win. This is not an “optional” war in which a pull out will be cost free. A pull out will be exceedingly dangerous to the nation, possibly leading not only to renewed terrorists attacks on the American mainland but also to the destabilization and the possible fall of Pakistan into the hands of extremists. We should never forget that Pakistan has nuclear weapons.
The president has spoken. It is now the responsibility of the Congress and the American people to press him on his responsibility to win this war.