On Afghanistan, No Good Options for Obama
By Ben Pershing
Does President Obama have a good option in Afghanistan?
In a week that will be dominated by White House deliberations over the way forward in the war effort, the debates both inside and outside the administration seem centered on deciding which is the least bad strategy: Add thousands more troops, and become more bogged down in a country with an unreliable government and an increasingly hostile population. Leave altogether, and let the Taliban resume control and rebuild a base for international terrorism. Choose a middle ground, and anger both sides with no endgame in sight.
Perhaps Obama's coterie of advisers has a better idea, but the president's top brass hope not to read about it in the newspaper. One day after James Jones sent a message to Stanley McChrystal by saying military advice should "come up through the chain of command," Robert Gates made the same point in blunter terms. The Defense secretary said everyone involved in the decision-making process should "provide our best advice to the president candidly but privately." (Walter Pincus argues that anyone who suggests McChrystal "is pressuring the White House to accept his ideas or else didn't pay close attention to his remarks last week in London," which included several qualifiers.)
Posted at 8:00 AM ET on Oct 6, 2009
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