The Trail: A Daily Diary of Campaign 2008


Dan Balz's Take

National Security

Obama to Receive McChrystal Report Wednesday

By Michael A. Fletcher
President Obama will receive the report assessing the war in Afghanistan from his top commander there on Wednesday, and will take it with him to Camp David as he continues his vacation over the extended Labor Day weekend.

Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, who commands both U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan and authored the report, calls the situation there "serious" but salvageable. The assessment is widely seen as the first step toward a likely request for more troops, money and other resources for the war.

The situation in Afghanistan poses a political conundrum for the president, who is caught between his liberal base, which is increasingly skeptical about the war, and his commanders, who want more resources to win it.

Speaking at a gaggle with reporters on Tuesday, Gibbs said that the president will take "some form" of the report with him to Camp David. But Gibbs stressed that the assessment was in effect a continuation of a daily conversation that Obama has with his commanders in Afghanistan and would not be the sole factor in any coming decisions about troop levels.

"This is not a one-report, one-event kind of thing," Gibbs said.

Posted at 11:39 AM ET on Sep 1, 2009  | Category:  National Security
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Youve already lost - accept it and move on.

Posted by: Rubiconski | September 2, 2009 5:00 PM

The lesson is never fight wars in Afghanistan ever.

Posted by: Rubiconski | September 2, 2009 4:52 PM

The United States does not understand what God means to people. A holy war is to keep God's ways in their nation because the alternative is Hell in eternity. The Taliban and radical Islamist CANNOT give up.

We have not fought for God in our country; prayer was taken out of schools in 1963 and God is hardly allowed to be mentioned. We have become a debased nation whose whole system goes against God's ways and many of our people are foul mouthed, immoral, immodest and focused on sexual ideas. There will be no end to the war until we want God to clean us up and put God in this discussion instead of bullets.

Posted by: MarieDevine | September 2, 2009 4:39 PM

“Every nation in every region now has a decision to make: Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists.” Bush, 2001

Obama will never have the backbone to be an effective Commander-in-Chief. Unlike Bush, he does not stand on "un-wavering" principles. You maynot like Bush, but he stood for something. The article below says it all!!!!!!!

Posted by: airtyme | September 2, 2009 8:18 AM

We are being told that we are "under-resourced" in Afghanistan. Of cource Afghanistan WAS under-resourced in 2001 and 2002 when more troops here might have reduced or wiped out the fag end of the Taliban after we had bombed them out so that the Norhern Alliance could grab power in Kabul. But of course the troops had to be held back for elsewherte . . .Iraq!- the conjured up greater "threat." The willful, harmeful ignorance of that policy is now laid bare.

Now it may be too late to 'salvage' Afghanistan since we calmly allowed the Taliban to regroup and become a force beyond our ability to control, except, maybe, only after a very,very long guerilla war -- for what purpose?

There seems little or no hope for "good governance" to soon take root in Afghanistan. Nor can we have much hope in building up -- for our purposes -- the police and military forces. The loyalties and motivations of our "trainees" may be beyond our understanding and ability to reshape people of this political cultgure, so strange to us.

In this view more troops won't achieve any of OUR civiliztionzl wishes for Aghanistan. But deals with local power holders, of any sort, could result in negotiations that produce mutually acceptable, popular infrastructure and economic projects, and cost us a lot less.

Posted by: alvedge | September 2, 2009 1:31 AM

Bureaucratic inertia is the number one thing keeping US forces in Afghanistan. No-one wants to be the ISAF commander who "lost" Afghanistan. No-one wants to be the CENTCOM commander who "lost" Afghanistan. No-one wants to be the defence secretary or Chairman of the Joint Chiefs or NATO secretary-general on whose watch Afghanistan was "lost".
So they call for continued effort, not because they believe victory is possible, but because they want the final failure to happen on the Next Guy's watch.

And, of course, no-one wants to be the President who "lost" Afghanistan either.
That's why Obama's in a tight spot right now. The current collapse in US support for the war comes largely from conservatives who were happy to support Bush's Afghan war, but not Obama's. They agitate for him to pull out, precisely so that they can accuse him of cowardice for pulling out.

So he stays in. But staying for that reason is itself an act of cowardice.

Posted by: bourassa1 | September 1, 2009 6:37 PM

Listen to the commanders; when was the last time a liberal fixed anything?

Posted by: joneshn | September 1, 2009 5:29 PM

We can only hope Obozzo takes the same approach as he did with Gates and the Boston cop.

In the middle east version however, he puts on some desert camo's, night goggles, grabs a few beers (non-alcoholic of course), kicks up some MJ tunes to about 90db's, puts on the worlds brightest helmet-top lighting system and heads out into the Afghan night to do some "community organizing" for which he is so famous.

If the Afghani's hate MJ as much as I think they will, our problems at home are over.

Posted by: Bcamp55 | September 1, 2009 5:13 PM


The Obama administration must dismantle a pervasive extrajudicial targeting and punishment apparatus that is destroying the lives and livelihoods of many thousands of unjustly "targeted" Americans...

...a multi-agency coordinated war against citizens flagged by ideologically-driven bureaucrats for their politics, their lifestyles, or their racial or ethnic background.

This extra-legal Gestapo fields a citizen volunteer army that uses covertly placed GPS devices as well as cell phone transmissions to stalk and harass the unjustly targeted -- and no federal or local officials will investigate.

Many of the victims of this oppression maintain that they are assaulted by silent, injury- and illness-inducing microwave and laser "directed energy weapons," which are being proliferated nationwide by various federal agencies including the departments of Defense, Homeland Security, and Justice.

Pledges to bring democracy to tribal lands ring even more hollow when a Bush-Cheney- spawned extrajudicial Gestapo has subverted the rule of law at home.


Posted by: scrivener50 | September 1, 2009 4:35 PM

Why does the author, Mr. Fletcher, assume that General McChrystal will request more troops ?
We have way too many there now, with the wrong skills and the wrong training.

If this report, and the analysis behind it, are any good, it will ask for permission to cut troops strengths and instead of combat units, replace them with some sort of organization/ team that can do what's needed.

If the report is even worth reading, it will explain that PRT's cannot advance US national security interests because the local populations recognize that they are simply tools of hostile, brutal foreign occupation.

If the report describes a new strategy that will actually work to secure and stabilize communities, then folks who understand human nature, the military, and tribal society already know what that new strategy is: the "Model Communities" approach developed in 2004 for Iraq.

If the US military effort is reoriented on a strategy that can actually work, there's really only one possible course of action. And it means that we will quit thinking of the brutal suppression of civilians as "counterinsurgency," and we will quit deluding ourselves about the possibility of creating a modern nation-state out of the ungoverned and ungovernable area we call "Afghanistan."

Until he proves himself to be an idiot, please allow for the possibility that Stan really did figure out what to do.

Posted by: BrianX9 | September 1, 2009 3:50 PM

New Orleans will not be rebuilt anytime soon for the same reason New Orleans was not evacuated - it is run by incompetent, crooked Democrats.

Top 10 Poorest Cities

What do the top ten cities with the highest poverty rate all have in common?

Detroit, MI (1st in poverty) hasn't elected a Republican mayor since 1961;

Buffalo, NY (2nd) hasn't elected a Republican mayor since 1954;

Cincinnati, OH (3rd) hasn't elected a Republican mayor since 1984;

Cleveland, OH (4th) hasn't elected a Republican mayor since 1989;

Miami, FL (5th) has never had a Republican mayor;

St. Louis, MO (6th) hasn't elected a Republican mayor since 1949;

El Paso, TX (7th) has never had a Republican mayor;

Milwaukee, WI (8th) hasn't elected a Republican mayor since 1908;

Philadelphia, PA (9th) hasn't elected a Republican mayor since 1952;

Newark, NJ (10th) hasn't elected a Republican mayor since 1907.

Pittsburgh, PA (11) ... No Republican held ANY office in Pittsburgh for 65 years until two were elected in 1995.

Einstein once said, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

It is the disadvantaged (define that however you will) who habitually elect Democrats --- yet they are still disadvantaged after all these years! Imagine that.

Posted by: foxwhite1 | September 1, 2009 3:46 PM

The original orders from Mr. Obama was to stop the threat of Al-Qaeda, and we did a great job, by bombing them day and night at the beginning of the war, with very little retaliation from them. Now we are playing the police department once again, and getting stuffed in the process. Its time the military leaders and the political gooneys understand that during boot camp soldiers are taught to fight and kill, not become the corner greeter for every third world country. Let our young men and woman do what they were trained to do, win a war with superior fire power and tactics, and they will be home sooner than later.

Posted by: PBJester | September 1, 2009 3:37 PM

One hopes that Obama does not eat before reading! Amazing that Afghanistan spelled backwards reads Vietnam. Gonna be tricky as there is no draft, no public interest and no guts on the part of Congress to stop this so 1% of Americans in the military will just keep on dying so everyone look's brave. IF, IF Obama wants to end this thing just himself, the VP, the members of Congress who voted for the war, Bush, Cheney and anyone else who wants to 'play' war overthere until it is overwith. Watch it end fast. And while we are at it what ever happened to the wars on poverty, disease, drugs, etc? And when will New Orleans be rebuilt> Maybe when the bribe money runs out.

Posted by: KBlit | September 1, 2009 2:15 PM

I know it is amazing but nevertheless predictable in that the media has been very delicate in writing about Afghanistan without mentioning that this is Obama's screw up. If Bush were still in office every casualty would lead the nightly news, Bush would be second guessed on every move and his handling would be considered incompetence. Yet while Obama plays tourist on the Cape and will escape to Camp David this week, our soldiers are being subjected to an inept and under funded and undermanned suicide mission. Democrats do not have the stomach or guts to win anything but an election and that they did by promising more then they can deliver...well that is now becoming clear. The media and liberals are a bunch of hypocritical socialists who will orchestrate the destruction of this country. Plato argued in The Republic that there are four stages of evolution of a nation: dictatorship/monarchy in the US case, oligarchy to democracy to ultimately chaos. An unfettered democracy as Plato argued inevitably gives way to chaos....that time has come...

Posted by: foxwhite1 | September 1, 2009 1:50 PM

Considering that this is the onset of Obama's Vietnam, taking part of an assessment to Camp David shouts volumes of the lack of involvement in this enterprise by one Barack H. Obama. Even LBJ was more engaged than this.

And shouts volumes, too about the seriousness of this march to folly by a new administration. Harvard degree and sunday school suited president; new wonks from the Dem side of things; combat inexperienced generals with shiny Ph.D.s: by God these boys are too smart to get suckered into a pointless war in eastern Asia. They're gonna win it!

How many episodes of the same stupidity must Americans suffer through? Apparently under President Kool T. Unruffled, at least one more.

Thanks much. Vietnam era Draftee/Veteran

Posted by: HLBeckPE | September 1, 2009 12:49 PM

Obama will never prosecute a war in such a way as to win it, at any rate. This particular effort is especially ridiculous for reasons already discussed by Will, with whom I agree and wholeheartedly support in calling for leaving, now. Sure, kill bad guys, bomb thugs where they sleep, but leave this armpit of a worthless place to its neolithic, moronic people. Say bye bye kooks, and leave!

Posted by: profsportster | September 1, 2009 12:36 PM

So, what's he going to do with it? I thought that was Bush's war, not his.

Posted by: sandynh | September 1, 2009 12:34 PM

So, is this finally Obama's War now?

Posted by: JakeD | September 1, 2009 12:14 PM

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