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As Obama Faces Afghanistan Decision, Old Debates - and Dangers - Reemerge


President Obama met with Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top commander in Afghanistan, aboard Air Force One in Copenhagen on Oct. 2. (AP Photo/White House, Pete Souza)

By Dan Balz
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates was well intentioned when, on Monday, he urged military and civilian advisers to President Obama to keep their counsel private and not engage in a public debate over the administration's Afghanistan policy. That may help shut off some of the leaks that have fueled the discussion so far, but Obama faces a very clamorous -- and necessary -- public debate as he approaches a decision on whether to further escalate U.S. involvement there.

The debate, a defining moment for Obama, will take center stage in Washington again on Tuesday. The president's agenda includes a meeting with more than two dozen congressional leaders from both parties to discuss the war strategy. The group includes his rival from 2008, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the most prominent advocate for sending more troops, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who speaks for a liberal wing of her and Obama's party that is increasingly worried about increasing forces there.

Vice President Biden, who has argued against accepting outright the recommendation for more troops from Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the Afghanistan commander, will be at the meeting with congressional leaders. His schedule Tuesday included a breakfast with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Richard Holbrooke, the administration's special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Many more meetings could follow before Obama makes a decision.

Presidential advisers say Obama is trying to force a reappraisal of all strategic assumptions before committing himself to a possible new approach in Afghanistan just months after establishing a new post-Bush strategy that included more troops and the sacking of the then-commander on the ground in favor of McChrystal. The president, according to one official, came to last week's meeting with his top advisers armed with a list of questions, carefully written down in his precise handwriting, that were designed to generate a thorough airing of the choices available and the underlying analysis behind them.

When McChrystal's dire strategy memo was first published in The Washington Post, Obama's opponents pounced. Some Republican leaders warned that any delay in accepting McChrystal's analysis and adopting his badly kept secret recommendation for up to 40,000 more troops would endanger all the forces already on the ground in Afghanistan. Obama, they argued, needed to act quickly and decisively -- and to accept the advice of his military commanders.

Things have cooled a bit since then. It's clear Obama intends to take more time to make this decision and now apparently has the space to do that. Whatever McChrystal's intentions when he spoke out last week in London, in remarks interpreted as trying to put public pressure on the president, the episode has worked to Obama's short-term benefit.

Gates's speech Monday, in which he said presidential advisers ought to offer their input "candidly but privately," has helped to reestablish the chain of command. Everyone is trying to minimize what was being portrayed as a sharp difference of opinion between the president and his commander in Afghanistan. But the debate continues to flourish, as it should.

Obama makes this decision buffeted by memories of what took place in the previous administration. One involves the question of presidential leadership and is built on images of strength and decisiveness -- George W. Bush at his best, the 43rd president's defenders would say.

The longer Obama waits to make this decision, the more he will be subjected to questions about whether he is tough enough and resolute enough to be commander in chief. This was the very question that dogged him throughout his campaign for president. Did this relatively young and even more inexperienced politician have the skills needed to lead the country in a time of war and terrorist threats?

Obama's political advisers knew he could not surpass McCain on this question, only that he had to satisfy the public that he had enough of what they wanted in a commander in chief to give them the confidence to vote for him. He crossed that threshold sometime between July and October of last year and the economic collapse took care of the rest of McCain's hopes of winning the presidency.

Now the old debates are back. It is once again McCain v. Obama on the question of military strategy. In January 2007, McCain championed the surge policy in Iraq; Obama opposed it. When, by the fall of 2008, it became clear that the surge had at least helped reduce the violence in Iraq (even if it did not bring political reconciliation), Obama struggled with questions about whether he was wrong in his opposition.

Today, McCain argues that counterinsurgency worked in Iraq and will work in Afghanistan. Obama, having never decisively embraced counterinsurgency in Iraq, is at least exploring other options that would not require a major commitment of additional forces.

These are important differences worth debate and analysis by the experts. But for Obama, the risk is that this decision will be framed simply as a question of his fortitude -- his willingness to make a tough decision (as he seemingly did last spring in announcing an initial troop increase) and then stick to it. Not just his political opponents at home but leaders around the world will make potentially lasting judgments about the president's strength based on what happens over the next weeks or months as he weighs his options.

The other memory against which this decision will be made could be called George W. Bush at his worst, which is to say a pell-mell rush toward action without a full and fair airing of opposing views, without more skeptical analysis of what military and intelligence officials claim to know and without an open and forthright discussion with the American people about what is known and unknown about whatever course is chosen.

Recall the infamous Downing Street Memo from July 2002, which described "a perceptible shift in attitude" toward war in Iraq by Bush administration officials and said "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy." In that climate, war became inevitable, dissenters were shunted to the sidelines and neither Congress nor the media forced a fuller examination of the underlying assumptions that led to the invasion in the spring of 2003. The country paid a huge price for those attitudes and the mistakes to which they led.

Now it is Obama's time. His challenge is not just to get the policy right, though that is most important. But it is to get to that decision after the fullest possible debate, public and private, and emerge with the public confident that he will protect the country -- and that he has both the judgment and the strength to bring this war in Afghanistan to a satisfactory conclusion.

By Web Politics Editor  |  October 6, 2009; 11:28 AM ET
Categories:  B_Blog , Dan Balz's Take  
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The approach emerged last week when the National Republican Congressional Committee, the campaign arm of House Republicans, issued a statement saying it hopes Gen. Stanley McChrystal, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, puts Pelosi "in her place" on Afghan policy. The statement accused Pelosi, a California Democrat, of putting party politics ahead of national security in her cautious statements on expanding the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan.

Pelosi Thursday called the statement sexist. "It's really sad. They really don't understand how inappropriate that is," she told reporters. "I'm in my place. I'm speaker of the House, the first woman speaker of the House. And I'm in my place because the House of Representatives voted me there. That language is something I haven't even heard in decades."

In response, Joanna Burgos, an NRCC spokeswoman, said in a statement that Pelosi "self-righteously believes she is better suited to craft our country's military policy" than is Gen. McChrystal.

Posted by: lucygirl1 | October 12, 2009 9:47 AM | Report abuse

If Joe Biden is running the war then we may have a secret weapon in that Joe dosen't know what he is going to do and may well be one of the most unpredictable democratic politiicians in the world.

Posted by: a4853916 | October 8, 2009 7:03 PM | Report abuse

The problem is that Obama has triangulated himself-and is just beginning to understand the implications of his "Iraq,bad-Afganistan,good" election gambit. His support of the people of Afganistan needs to be reimagined, but I doubt he has that ability and thus his presidency is doomed.

Posted by: dknepley | October 8, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse

vadeD - best post since Gator Ron.

Posted by: JohnQuimby | October 7, 2009 7:33 PM | Report abuse

We've restored the heroin trade, placed a lacky in the presidency, and chased the Taliban to Pakistan. What more can we do for these folks?

Posted by: vadeD | October 7, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

McCain is like a student who always answers "D" on a multiple choice test. Yes, he will be right 25% of the time. But just rushing soldiers into war is wrong a lot of the time-- ask the mothers of the Soviet soldiers who died in Afghanistan.
Obama's in depth analysis demonstrates that he was a much wiser choice than McCain-- if we do send more troops, it won't just be a macho guns blazing decision. It should be for a carefully thought out policy. McCain supported the rush to war in Iraq, which weakened our forces in Afghanistan and undercut the effort there, leaving us in the situation we face today. He shares responsibility for the problem. His concerns about Afghanistan troop levels come 8 years too late for me to take them seriously.

Posted by: bethechangeyouwant | October 7, 2009 9:03 AM | Report abuse

What to do after the imminent announcement of more troops to Afghanistan...

1. Amend the War Powers Act and the Constitution to disallow war without congressional approval.

2. Make war profiteering by any war maker a major felony.

3. Prohibit the use of mercenaries, armed contractors and the use of military force on American soil except when directly engaged in defensive war against a foreign nation.

4. Repeal the following:

(a) Detainee Treatment Act of 2005
(b) Military Commission Act of 2006
(c) FISA Amendments Act of 2008
(e) Protect America Act
(f) Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act
(g) Patriot Act

Ban:

Secret budgets
Secret laws
Secret agencies

End

Rendition
Filibuster
Vice President executive power

Sign

Rome Treaty

Join:

Progressive Democrats of America
National Accountability Network
Peace Team
World Can't Wait
CODE PINK
Women for Peace
Veterans for Peace
High Road for Human Rights
American Freedom Campaign
Center for Constitutional Rights
American Civil Liberties Union
National Security Whistleblowers Coalition
Courage to Resist
Militarization of Youth

Put America back on track

Posted by: coiaorguk | October 7, 2009 7:11 AM | Report abuse

One good sign is that Obama has a list of questions that he wants answered before he makes a decision. Some posters here seem to think they have all the answers, but all I have are questions. There is a request for 40,000 more troops, but do we even have 40,000 more troops to send there? What's the basis for the assumption that 40,000 more troops will be enough, given the Soviet experience in Afghanistan? Even if we have the 40,000 extra troops to send to Afghanistan, can we afford to do it in the middle of this recession? If we put them in, are our supply lines going to be secure? If we put them in, how long would we have to sustain that higher level of troops there to accomplish our goals? Do we have the economic resources and the political will to do that? What are our long range goals there anyhow? Are these goals worth the sacrifice that's being contemplated here?

Posted by: PostSubscriber | October 6, 2009 10:47 PM | Report abuse

Bush was "tough" they (many) say.
Smart? Not hardly
Accurate (weapons of mass destruction)?
Not a chance

Talked big after 9/11? Yep
Found Bin Laden? Nope

Got us in 2 wars that Obama inherited?
Exactly

Posted by: kedavis | October 6, 2009 9:55 PM | Report abuse

To Taxpayer314
---------------------------
Has there ever been a war that liberals fought to win (excepting for a place in a Starbuck's Latte line)? Has there ever been a war that liberals would fight without first considering "surrender" as an option? Ever...? --finesseaugrande.
----------------------------

Interesting question. World War I and II come to mind. Or, do you consider the government that I brought us the New Deal conservative?

Posted by: taxpayer314 | October 6, 2009 9:09 PM

-----------------

Today's Latte "liberals" couldn't hold a candle to the Democrats of WWI and WWII. I suspect the folks from those eras would look at the Democrats of today and recoil in absolute horror. In their day abortion, "gay" marriage, and the culture of "victimhood" would have been anathema.

Posted by: finesseaugrande | October 6, 2009 9:26 PM | Report abuse

I'm reading Senator Kennedy's posthumous memoir with no intention of connecting to anything in the present. It's a good read with lots of great stories I bet he told a thousand times about his family life as a kid, but they are stories I had never heard before. And then the story, moving through the years, gets to the Bay of Pigs.

I know that militarily, Afghanistan is most easily compared to Vietnam. Lots more similarities militarily to that than to a single action like the Bay of Pigs.

But politically (as opposed to militarily), it is impossible not to see the parallels between the current decision and the Bay of Pigs.

Bright young new president comes into a situation and is told by all the people "in the know" -- military, intelligence, and associated parties of the time -- that there is only one right choice on Cuba, this plan where a small force of exiles will go in and spark an instant, islandwide revolution that will topple Castro. If he's going to be a gutsy Commander in Chief, and prove himself tough enough, this is the time to step up and do it. There are no other options presented, just basically various tweaks on the same idea. There are no dissenting voices. And then it's a fiasco and all those people who expressed such certainty are nowhere to be found.

I am deeply suspicious of any situation where the military leaders are "crowding" the president into an outcome they have chosen for him. As Jim Jones said, offering only one solution has a "forcing effect" that is completely out of line. One Bay of Pigs situation is enough. Let's not repeat it for this presidency. Give the president support, real choices, and real information, instead of this "my way or the highway" attitude, and then I'll be more convinced our country is on the right road there.

Posted by: fairfaxvoter | October 6, 2009 9:25 PM | Report abuse

What a stinking disappointment Obama has become as president.

Posted by: georgejones5 | October 6, 2009 9:14 PM | Report abuse

Obama wasn't tough enough to enter the military. Ironically, this article questions whether he's tough enough for war. It's too bad the voters weren't tough enough to vote for someone who was. Of course, most of the believed that by electing Obama, the troops would all be home and this type of situation wouldn't be an issue.

Posted by: nosam32 | October 6, 2009 9:12 PM | Report abuse

From finesseaugrande:

---------------------------
Has there ever been a war that liberals fought to win (excepting for a place in a Starbuck's Latte line)? Has there ever been a war that liberals would fight without first considering "surrender" as an option? Ever...?
----------------------------

Interesting question. World War I and II come to mind. Or, do you consider the government that I brought us the New Deal conservative?

Posted by: taxpayer314 | October 6, 2009 9:09 PM | Report abuse

Where does Balz get this crap...we're talking about good men and women dying over there. Obama will not be suiting up for battle. You folks get John Wayne confused with those who come back dead or without body parts. I was in Nam in 67 & 68 and people died over there for nothing and I was lucky enough to come back with my body parts. Obama has already sent 21,000 men and women and now Balz thinks it is untoward to think through sending another 40,000? Give me a break, and give me a president who will take his time before sending men and women to die just so some columnist can say the he is tough enough. GARBAGE!@

Posted by: october30 | October 6, 2009 8:57 PM | Report abuse

Has there ever been a war that liberals fought to win (excepting for a place in a Starbuck's Latte line)? Has there ever been a war that liberals would fight without first considering "surrender" as an option? Ever...?

Posted by: finesseaugrande | October 6, 2009 8:55 PM | Report abuse

For Christ's sake, we're talking about killing people here. He should take his time.

http://counterpunch.org/jacobs10062009.html

Posted by: rjacobs1 | October 6, 2009 8:55 PM | Report abuse

ONLY a Dumbocrat and chid of civilians, would use Bush/Cheney as examples leadership with prior military experience.

You're gonna need to come a little stronger than that next time.......that is if you can..............

Posted by: FlyNMy40s | October 6, 2009 8:52 PM | Report abuse

Didn't Obama already make a decision during the 2008 campaign? Why would he send troops to Afghanistan when he is going into Pakistan to find Taliban and al Queda operatives....What! Since the election Obama has allowed the Taliban to retake parts of Afghanistan....Maybe he should give Rummy a call. It only took him a few days to kick them out of the country.

Posted by: rpatoh | October 6, 2009 8:22 PM | Report abuse

Its becoming clear that Obama is trying to extricate himself from Afghanistan without too much political fallout. He doesn't have the stomach to win this war, and anger his left wing.....http://cooperscopy.blogspot.com/

Posted by: ronsuev | October 6, 2009 8:15 PM | Report abuse

With soldiers dying on the field in Afghanistan for lack of back-up power, it is not the time for the president to dither. Does Obama really have the best in mind for America and its people regarding the outcome of the war, or is he testing to see where the political winds are blowing? I am sorry to say that I believe it is the latter. Obama, Rahm Emmanuel, and Joe Biden are now running the show to the consternation of Obama's generals whose advises apparently are disregarded.

Posted by: Tommypie | October 6, 2009 8:03 PM | Report abuse

Barry's probably unsure whether to vote "present" or not.

Posted by: rg019571 | October 6, 2009 7:54 PM | Report abuse

To those who say that prior military service is a prerequisite to being president: within a very few terms, we'll winnow the available field to a tiny minority of the population. (Given many of our recent candidates, one could say that this is no big deal. I respectfully disagree.)
On the overarching point: yes, the president is at a defining moment. I'd much rather have his thoughtful, careful approach rather than his predecessor's cowboy plan: invade a country that has not attacked us; ignore Afghanistan and its history (failures by Britain and the Soviets based on the same type of policy formulated by Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Franks, etc.); project power for the sake of projecting power; support a dictator in Pakistan and demand nothing for the billions of taxpayer dollars given to him.
We should pray for the president and support him. The hard right and hard left, and the majority in Congress (a sickening bunch if I've ever seen one) are disgusting. The bulk of congresspersons are unworthy of remaining in office. Send 'em packing!

Posted by: muleman | October 6, 2009 7:53 PM | Report abuse

Seriously, Dubya was an ABSOLUTE disaster as CIC and there where never any articles about his "defining moments" only mindless cheerleading from the Post's editorial pages. As for you Rethugs complaining about Obama having no military experience, I remind you about Dick "six deferments" Cheney who had "other priorities" rather than fighting in Vietnam so STFU!

Posted by: whirlwind81 | October 6, 2009 7:51 PM | Report abuse

Once again, the President without any military experience is hiding under his desk...won't come out, until the war's over. So, go away! He's not coming out (spoken in a Monty Python voice)!

Posted by: nosam32 | October 6, 2009 7:28 PM | Report abuse

But it is worth the cost of lifes it saves in america. We leave they will follow us home. Its a little late to start saying wow we shouldn'd be here spending billions. We are already there.

Posted by: rainman2 | October 6, 2009 7:20 PM | Report abuse

I see a problem in the new definition of a win. A win is now defined as propping up the current central government until it is strong enough to control the country and control the Taliban. This presents major problems since the central government's claim to legitimacy is a fraudulent election. We are supposed to stay until this feeble government is recognized as legitimate and it gains strength. In the meantime, we fight it battles and try to control the Taliban.

How many years or decades will this take. We are now in the ninth year of this war and our "win" is not even close to fruition. Is this worth the sacrifice of American lives and the billions it will cost? I don't think so.

Posted by: esch | October 6, 2009 7:13 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, Obama is not tough like Bush. Or stupid either. Or a religious nut. Or psychotic. Or under the control of Dick Cheney. Too bad. The neocons are going to have to work for the money.

Posted by: branfo4 | October 6, 2009 7:11 PM | Report abuse

3 words: Prior military service.

No one is qualified to lead a country at war unless he/she has previously served in the military. Period.

Posted by: FlyNMy40s | October 6, 2009 7:11 PM | Report abuse

Why is the question whether Obama is "tough enough"? That question implies that "winning" even if we have to lose an uncounted number of lives, Obama must be "tough enough" -- or act "tough enough" to withstand the barbs of his conscience. Is that what an American president needs --to be able to withstand barbs from his conscience? How about a president strong enough to go against these cliches of macho-ism -- strong enough to stand up for humane methods of solving problems, not brute force and unnecessary bloodshed? Moral strength is what is required of our president -- and of all of us. It's time to quit killing. We need to outgrow war and learn to make peace -- unless we want to eventually go mad and start dropping a-bombs again.

Posted by: jeangerard1 | October 6, 2009 6:48 PM

___________________________________________
I want you to give this speech in front of the familys and survivors of the twin towers. I also want you to remember this statement when the next big news story about the hundreds of deaths because of the subway blast or the bomb that went off in a mall. As long as we keep those crazy's busy over there they can't plan as well things over here. no on likes war but we didn't start this but we will finish it. One last thing, I want you to thank a marine for giving you the freedom to be able to type that statement the same ones who go over there and keep those crazy's hiding.

Posted by: rainman2 | October 6, 2009 7:11 PM | Report abuse

Why is the question whether Obama is "tough enough"? That question implies that "winning" even if we have to lose an uncounted number of lives, Obama must be "tough enough" -- or act "tough enough" to withstand the barbs of his conscience. Is that what an American president needs --to be able to withstand barbs from his conscience? How about a president strong enough to go against these cliches of macho-ism -- strong enough to stand up for humane methods of solving problems, not brute force and unnecessary bloodshed? Moral strength is what is required of our president -- and of all of us. It's time to quit killing. We need to outgrow war and learn to make peace -- unless we want to eventually go mad and start dropping a-bombs again.

Posted by: jeangerard1 | October 6, 2009 6:48 PM | Report abuse

Speed and wrecklessness represents strength? What a stupid, stupid -- and fallacious, and transparent -- argument!

Strength, for President Obama, means resisting Republican attempts to rush him into an ill-conceived, un-popular, and potentially self-damaging decision about how to deal with the Bush/Neoconservative quagmire in the Middle East.

So far, so good on the President's resistance to the non-elected armchair quarterbacks (or "Presidents") declaring what Obama "should be" or "needs to be" doing! Who in the you-know-what do these numbskulls think they are?

You GO President Obama!!

Posted by: iphoenix | October 6, 2009 6:41 PM | Report abuse

War is a government-run program. Our tax money finances it. The recent proprietors of government and industry have made war almost invisible. Sons of the south and west are taught to worship God and Country and to go marching off under orders whether the war is wise or foolish. They then disappear from our collective consciousness unless they happen to be killed. Then they are honored for what is invariably said to be their effort to Protect Our Liberty. Last time I checked, neither Iraq nor Afghanistan had invaded the US and thereby directly threatened Our Liberty. Some religiously addled, angry young men succeeded in expressing their opinion of America by crashing America's own airliners into America's own office buildings. But that's not a threat to Our Liberty. That's a security breach. War is very profitable, especially to those who make armaments and supply services to the military. Those wealthy people failed to deliver adequate body armor, armored vehicles, and grounded electrical equipment in barracks. But, no matter. If the Afghan war is necessary then take The Nation to War. Put us on a war-time footing. Jack up income taxes on the wealthy to pay for it. A new conscription program would accept for service the sons and daughters of high net worth individuals first. Stop sending messages and start sending the enemy to a new and different astral plane. If you think it wise. I know I can hear an "amen" from Republicans in Congress.

Posted by: BlueTwo1 | October 6, 2009 6:39 PM | Report abuse

wgtatton..I will take the opinion over a comtemplating Biden then and Chickenhawk like you.

IF you are so sure fire hot about the Taliban..

Go get your NRA approved AK47 and go get them.

ISA

Posted by: Issa1 | October 6, 2009 6:35 PM | Report abuse

Circular reasoning abounds on the right and the left regarding this issue. Two realistic concepts are central to this debate: 1) defeating Al Qaeda in Afganistan is unimportant at this point in time. Destroying the Taliban is of prime importance. If the Taliban retakes Afganistan, which they effectively may have already done, they will provide an almost inpenetrable site for attack on the West. What goes on with Biden and Jones and their emphasis on surgical knock outs of Al Qaeda? Al Qaeda is done but might be ressurected by a victorious Taliban; 2) the prime directive must be to wipe out the Taliban. Drone strikes and small groups of special forces cannot defeat an increasingly large and scattered organization like the Taliban. Fighting at a distance with B-52's in Viet Nahm or with the Clintonian use of Cruz missles didn't work. Jones fought in Viet Nahm but he apparently is a slow learner or a blinded ideolog. Biden has consistently been wrong in his suggested policies over the last 30 years. Accordingly, there is only one question that needs to be answered - can the Taliban be defeated by a surge of "boots on the ground", as McChrystal suggests? If not, which is likely given historical evidence, it is time to abandon Afganistan. Running will undoubtedly have a high cost but it will be less expensive than being forced out. How then can the western democracies be defended against massive murder of our populations by extremist terrorists (oops wrong term, sorry Ms Nepolitano)? Whatever we devise to protect ourselves and our children cannot be PC, gentle and necessarily within the Constitution as demanded by the pacifist appeasers and the ACLU.

Posted by: wgtatton | October 6, 2009 6:26 PM | Report abuse

Why does Balz consider that it requires "toughness" to fight a war? In the case of Afghanistan, it certainly looks like the "toughness" required would be in resisting the bevy of Pentagon generals, Republican warholics, and afraid-to-look-weak Democrats. Afghanistan is clearly a war that, if it ever could have been "won", should have been won years ago. Such victory is impossible today, and efforts to continue or even escalate the war only lead to further loss of life by America's bravest, further loss of borrowed money, and increasing strength of Muslim extremists in the region. Yet, will we learn from past wars that should have never been fought? Not bloody likely.

So, here we go, yet again, headstrong and brainless, fighting a war we're bound to lose, in a third-world, impoverished, landlocked country with a corrupt, inept government that has no national support. Are we going to be stupid enough to keep fighting here? Will another Democratic Presidency be destroyed, and countless lives lost, because no one in power was able to say, "Enough!"? Apparently, yes. The march of folly continues.

Posted by: ricst | October 6, 2009 5:56 PM | Report abuse

SNL has now ordained Obama national characteristic. Obama is weak. Just like SNL portrayed Bush as stupid. No matter what Obama does, he won't be able to shake the notion that he is weak. Bush could not lose the stupid label.

Posted by: edgar_sousa | October 6, 2009 5:51 PM | Report abuse

Balz is a reporter, right? What are his credentials in the area of foreign policy, strategic planning, military plans?

None!! Zip!! McChrystal took three months to figure out that things were screwed up in Afghanistan and he should have known they were based on how the military planned for Iraq.

Obama's gettin g a consensus unlike previous leaders who listened to a couple people then charged off on their own path. The wrong one I might add.

Posted by: rrau22 | October 6, 2009 5:51 PM | Report abuse

Are you tough only if you pull the trigger right away? Danny Boy! Don't you know how to pose any question? Are you under lot of pressure? Don't pressure Obama! He has already decided to pull the trigger. He will put it in a different way however. Not like you!

Posted by: tjohn1 | October 6, 2009 5:39 PM | Report abuse

my neutered male rat terrier has more balls that bush, er obama.

Posted by: tru-indy | October 6, 2009 5:39 PM | Report abuse

What's telling is that Obama had to meet with "congressional leaders" to discuss U.S. strategy for Afghanistan. How about meeting with the military to solve a military problem? Oh, I get it, it's more important to gauge the affects of what we do in this battle against a suppressive Taliban against the impact it might have on the voters reaction to elected officials. In other words, screw doing the right thing for the people in Afghanistan if it doesn't sit well with liberal politicians. That is not leadership, but what could anyone expect from a two-bit inexperienced politician?

Posted by: sonny_sky

-------------------------------------------

Where do I mail your enlistment papers..... Are you ready to donate some more of your salary to the Federal Gov't to pay for the security of Afghans? It's ok to raise that argument for Americans without health care, but we can drop money into a hole half the world away without question?

Posted by: theobserver4 | October 6, 2009 5:38 PM | Report abuse

With apologies to Herman Badillo and Tom Wicker(a real journalist) I don't know what the hurry is...there is always time to die.
For those of you with short memories or fewer time on the planet, see Nelson Rockefeller's ill advised but "strong" response to the Attica Prison riot...Or Grant's "strong" but monumentally deadly assault at Cold Harbor...or the dozens of other "strong" but fatally flawed decisions, usually made in haste. Can you say Charge of the Light Brigade? Obama has to live with this decision, and either way, people will die. What's the rush?

Posted by: jerseycityjohnny | October 6, 2009 5:24 PM | Report abuse

What's telling is that Obama had to meet with "congressional leaders" to discuss U.S. strategy for Afghanistan. How about meeting with the military to solve a military problem? Oh, I get it, it's more important to gauge the affects of what we do in this battle against a suppressive Taliban against the impact it might have on the voters reaction to elected officials. In other words, screw doing the right thing for the people in Afghanistan if it doesn't sit well with liberal politicians. That is not leadership, but what could anyone expect from a two-bit inexperienced politician?

Posted by: sonny_sky | October 6, 2009 5:17 PM | Report abuse

DONCHA love the way people regurgitate the Obama Campaign propaganda:

"I am glad we have a President that is not willing to kill innocent people for a War in a country that cannot be won"

Does this moron ever check on how many 'innocents' were killed by missile firing DRONES under the direct order of Obama? ..they say love is blind; but this is insane!


and another one:

"In one of the few articles on this decision to actually supplement opinion with facts, it was mentioned that Obama has scheduled 4 major meetings this month to examine the questions. He will then take a couple of weeks to think it through, ask follow-up questions, and begin preparing the ground for his announcement.

I expect we will hear his decision in mid-November"

NOVEMBER! and almost a year has gone by on his indecision on a key campaign theme...remember he wanted this WAR in Afghanistan probably more than BUSH did, and he's waited all this time to reformulate a 'strategy' and hold some meetings?

To quote Howie Carr...HOW MANY MORE MUST DIE!


Posted by: Common_Cents1 | October 6, 2009 5:13 PM | Report abuse

Maybe some of you armchair hawks on this comment board need to take a look at the online pictures at Dover. The fact that the President is trying to bring some focus onto this mess that he inherited is necessary. Maybe if the same level of focus was accomplished on Afghanistan eight years ago, the story would be different.

Posted by: thinkfirst1 | October 6, 2009 5:06 PM | Report abuse

In one of the few articles on this decision to actually supplement opinion with facts, it was mentioned that Obama has scheduled 4 major meetings this month to examine the questions. He will then take a couple of weeks to think it through, ask follow-up questions, and begin preparing the ground for his announcement.

I expect we will hear his decision in mid-November.

Posted by: j2hess | October 6, 2009 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Obama--over his head........

what do you do when the photo ops end???

Posted by: JaxMax | October 6, 2009 4:53 PM | Report abuse

I wish he were tough enough to say No! There are things that general did not learn. They are soldiers, not politicians.

Posted by: uzs106 | October 6, 2009 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Is Obama tough enough to clean up after Bush's mistakes? Yes he is.

Posted by: ottoparts | October 6, 2009 4:49 PM | Report abuse

WOW-a President who actually thinks ...and thinks...and thinks...and our men and women die...and die...and...DIE.He knew he would be President for nearly a YEAR! And he's still thinking about a plan???
This wimp has blood on his hands.
Balz and WaPo keep trying to find excuses, but the TINGLING is getting fainter.

Why can't the USA get a real leader? First an ignorant frat boy and now a clueless, spineless, Marxist assistant professor.

Posted by: beecheery | October 6, 2009 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Maybe the neocons would be happy if Obama decided to go along with a surge and then a month or so in performed a little captain America skit where he declared "Mission Accomplished" -- i.e., the end of military combat in such and such region, only to have the war drag out for another >= 5 years.

Neocon derangement syndrome -- the unadulterated worship of draft dodger chicken hawks like George W Bush, Dick Cheney, Mitt Romney, Sean Hannity, etc., etc.

Oh and on the subject of leadership, Obama will never be able to "lead" like GWB because no one could have ever cowered on Air Force One in the aftermath of 911 like Bush II did.

Posted by: htruman1 | October 6, 2009 4:45 PM | Report abuse

There is an old saying, "Haste makes waste." We should have learned that lesson with our hasty decision to invade Iraq in 2003. Now, the purveyors of junk foreign policy and the sky is falling are trying to force President Obama to make a very important decision in less than an appropriate time frame. Obama inherited two wars which presented him with no easy ways to termination without major bloodshed. Let President Obama work his magic and let the rest of exercise some patience.

Posted by: EarlC | October 6, 2009 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Obama has made the right decisions on every matter that he has addressed. He was right on the economy, he is right on health care, he was right on taking out the pirates, and I have total confidence that he will make the right decision on Afghanistan. As I recall McCrystal's comment was geared toward actions needed in the next year-what the he** is the rush?

Posted by: cdierd1944 | October 6, 2009 4:31 PM | Report abuse

One requirement to serve as our nations commander-in-chief should be to have served in the military, only then can he know how our soldiers feel!
We'll never win in Afghanistan, the Russians didn't after 20 years.
THe only thing we will do is throw more money at it! The defense contractors will get very rich!

Posted by: glwarn | October 6, 2009 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Obama is not fit to lead a drunk to a bar for a drink. He is a hollow suit. 3 years and 3 months left.

Posted by: KBlit | October 6, 2009 4:13 PM | Report abuse

The question is not whether Obama is strong enough to make a decision about Afghanistan-he will. The issue is he smart enough to make the right decision unlike Bush who was quick, strong and wrong. It is interesting that the GOP wants to kick the can down the road on health care but wants to act immediately on an equally important issue of Afghanistan. The military is very good at what they do but this issue goes beyond their level of competence. Anyone who thinks we "won" in Iraq has access to information that has not be publically released yet.

Posted by: cdierd1944 | October 6, 2009 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Wow! a president who actually THINKS about solutions and ramifications of his decisions.
Unlike Bush - THE WORST PRESIDENT EVER!

Posted by: angie12106 | October 6, 2009 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Obama is not fit to lead a drunk to a bar for a free drink. He is a hollow suit who has gotten to be president. He has 3 years and 3 months left.

Posted by: KBlit | October 6, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse

President Obama-weeks later-continues to ponder.

The president himself said this was the war that we should fight.
The president himself appointed Gen. McChrystal to come up with a strategy to win this war.

The general does as he is told and the president then spends weeks thinking it over even as Americans die in the field of battle.
His procrastination is dangerous to American servicemen and women in Iraq and it reveals for the whole world to see that he is a weak president.

Why is he pondering and pondering?
He's worried about his liberal base and the troops come second.

Make up your mind Mr President.
It's either all out or give Gen McChrystal the troops to do the job that you appointed him to do in Afghanistan.

There IS no middle ground.
To send half or reduce McChrystal's request for the necessary troops is to condemn this country to another Vietnam.

Posted by: BruceMcDougall | October 6, 2009 3:54 PM | Report abuse

In the end it won't matter whether O'Bama is delaying a decision because of careful deliberation or because he hasn't a clue about what to do; in the end he will be found to be wanting.

Posted by: ravitchn | October 6, 2009 3:47 PM | Report abuse

The equation has changed in Afghanistan with the fraud in the Karzai election. Our strategy and mission must take this into account. Karzai is an albatross, the people of Afghanistan need an eagle.

For the authoritarian KNRW (know nothing right wing) their minds were made up during adolescence, never back down from a fight. One fights for honor not for what is in the national interest.

Obama is tough enough to deal with these childish men and women.

Posted by: Gator-ron | October 6, 2009 3:43 PM | Report abuse

The president has already demonstrated on a smaller scale that he can make hard decisions: he approved the military operation that rescued a U.S. captain held hostage by Somali pirates (critics were ready to pounce on him for not doing anything---until they realized he had secretly done so and was successful.)
Lyndon Johnson was faced with a similar situation in Vietnam...he didn't want to appear "soft" or cave into Communism, so he continued to listen to his military advisers and the Wise men, who advocated escalating the war in Vietnam. Like Vietnam, there is no stable government in Afghanistan to work with. The stakes are very high that we are sending many more troops to die and will have accomplished very little for doing so. I think Obama is being prudent not to rush to a decision; this situation requires out-of-the-box problem solving. My personal opinion is that we do not send more troops and consider/invest in anti-terrorist technologies.

Posted by: brt30 | October 6, 2009 3:35 PM | Report abuse

In the photo Gen. Stanley McChrystal looks Obama in the eye, while our fearless leader looks down. Obama is way out of his league and our kids are stranded without reinforcements.

Posted by: militarymom1

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Right on MilitaryMom1 !!!
When I saw that picture I wondered how General McChrystal must have felt in the granduer of Air Force One, facing a pint sized politician, who has the ADACITY to tell him how to run a War!!!
What magnificant restraint!!!
The debate is over - this guy is not qualified to be Commander-in-Chief!!!
After this single-term pissant is done he won't be able to run for mayor of chicago!!
Oh, wait - that is all he is qualified for! :-)


Posted by: thornegp2626 | October 6, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Compare our results with Russia's results whom failed in Afghanistan. Something to think about while American's believe President Obama is weak on War.

I am glad we have a President that is not willing to kill innocent people for a War in a country that cannot be won, as we should haver learned from our history in Vietnam. We followed ther French into Vietnam and we lost. We have followed Russia into Afghanistan and we will lose there, as well. History is repleat with examples of our failures to have war on the world.

It takes a stronger man to not kill innocent women and children than it does to actually kill innocent people.

Patrick

Posted by: patmatthews | October 6, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse

I for one prefer a president who leads with his brain and not his vaunted 'gut'.

As for criticism, I don't know if you noticed, but the GOP is going to criticize him no matter what he does -- even if they secretly agree with it.

There's just too much cash at stake for Republicans to vote their consciences.

Posted by: Samson151 | October 6, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

"So far as I am concerned, we are only in Afghanistan for one purpose, and one purpose only, to capture Osama Bin Laden.
Let's complete the mission.
Posted by: lindalovejones"

I generally find the people who yammer on about capturing bin Laden and handing him over to his ACLU lawyers as the only objective in our ideological struggle with radical Islam, the thousands of leaders and 65-70 Islamist terrorist groups out there....

Happen to be the same people who advocate for the rights of the 9/11 Mastermind and Leader, Khalid Sheikh Mahammed. Who are in absolutely no rush to buck Leftists of the ACLU and other groups suing to delay his trial. And who weep that poor Khalid was waterboarded with success..in saving other people's lives from his post 9/11 plots being carried out.

"Finding bin Laden!!" is just a stupid Leftist talking point.

He is but one of many Islamoid enemies. And most Americans would prefer he is killed on sight rather than risk any soldier's lives trying to capture the guy so ACLU lawyers and other lawyers can one day sign multi-million dollar book and movie rights contracts for once representing or "prosecuting" the loser.

Posted by: ChrisFord1 | October 6, 2009 3:20 PM | Report abuse

So the tough choice here is
(1) Act quickly and don't do too much thinking, just let the testosterone take over or
(2) Take a little more time and try to get it right because American lives are on the line.
And because Obama's chosen #2, he risks any bona fides as a warrior? Particularly with those who have historically shot first and asked questions afterward.
I just read what the Washington Post said about this.
What do you suppose Edward R. Murrow would say about this? What perspective do you suppose he'd give the American people? What would most help the American people and Post readers on this issue? What's the best way for Obama - or any president - to lead?
I'm just askin'.

Posted by: art-mahoney | October 6, 2009 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Hard to believe this amazing display of stupidity and ignorance made in the form of blind assertions actually exists - but here it is, from Will Seattle:

============
Let's be frank.
Al-Qaeda is NOT in Iraq.
They are not in Iran (who have killed more al-Qaeda and more Taliban than we ever will).
They are not in Afghanistan.
They ARE in Saudi Arabia and Yemen - where they get almost all (more than 95 percent) of their money and their volunteers and their Wahhabi extremist religious texts.
You don't win by attacking where people WERE.
You attack where they ARE.
Bring all the troops home - NOW.
And, quite frankly, if four neutron bombs happened to fall on Saudi Arabia ... that would be a good thing.
Posted by: WillSeattle
========================
AQ was heavy in Iraq, where they suffered a catastrophic loss. But they still have people in-country doing major killings of Iraqi civilians.
AQ is in Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
KSA only has about 25% of AQ's membership, which is diffused across 17 Islamoid countries and pockets of Islamoids in Western nations, and India.
Since 2005, KSA has aggressively gone after AQ members and financiers.
Talk of "neutron-bombing" KSA is supremely stupid. For starters we have no neutron bombs, and for finishers that it would create a general war with Islam that would make AQ's damages look trivial in comparison.
Iran has not killed more AQ and Taliban than we have.
And what kind of idiot calls for "bringing soldiers HOME NOW! - while advocating dropping nukes on Islamoids??

Intelligent debate is one thing. An idiot making idiotic assertions is another.

Posted by: ChrisFord1 | October 6, 2009 3:07 PM | Report abuse

So far as I am concerned, we are only in Afghanistan for one purpose, and one purpose only, to capture Osama Bin Laden.

Let's complete the mission.

Posted by: lindalovejones | October 6, 2009 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Columnists like Dan Balz and Richard Cohen, as well as others working for the Post, are utter idiots who think that somehow it is more courageous to send more troops to Afganistan than to examine other strategic options. When idiots like these push one choice as the only choice, they are doing disservice to men ans women of the armed forces who bear the ultimate burdern..while these idiots sit in their office and pontificate. These people should their sons and daughters to fight..then they would have more credibility.

Posted by: kevin1231 | October 6, 2009 2:53 PM | Report abuse

So now we'll have a strategy of the month from Odumbo?

What a coward. He maintained for months that this was where we ought to be engaged.

Now that Iraq is winding down and casualties are being taken, the dumbas$ waffles, and listens to the likes of idiot Biden, who has been absolutely wrong on just about every position he has taken.

I feel for McChrystal for having to put up with dolts like this.

Won't be long before the troops figure out that they have enemies in front of, and behind them.

Disgraceful.

Where is a real Mitch Rapp when we need him?

Posted by: LarryG62 | October 6, 2009 2:43 PM | Report abuse


Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal has put Obama on the spot. Maybe Biden can help Obama off the pot and make a decision.

.

Posted by: Billw3 | October 6, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Remember, Obama is on record as opposing the Surge not only at the time, but AFTER it had already succeeded. It's an understatement to suggest that he not only has no military experience, but really no military aptitude or instinct. He's a beta male in an alpha male's world -- heck, just look at him avoiding eye contact in that picture with McChrystal.

The guy is banking on diplomacy, diplomacy, and more diplomacy topped with a sprinkling of diplomacy because he really can't do anything else. In the Middle East, a region where the only thing ever truly respected is strength, Obama's vacillation and shrinking violet routine is basically an announcement of open season on America's interests.

Posted by: zippyspeed | October 6, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

How awful more solider die and the General has to be at the mercy of Obama to get support for his troops. The president needs to forget about stimulus with banks and get something done to stimulate getting this war over.

Posted by: 45upnorth | October 6, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse

TIME TO BOMB THE MOON

Scientific American reprots today on their website:

"NASA's mission to bomb the Moon

NASA will tomorrow launch a spectacular mission to bomb the Moon. Their LCROSS mission will blast off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, carrying a missile that will blast a hole in the lunar surface at twice the speed of a bullet.

The missile, a Centaur rocket, will be steered by a shepherding spacecraft that will guide it towards its target - a crater close to the Moon's south pole.

Scientists expect the blast to be so powerful that a huge plume of debris will be ejected"

RESPONSE:

Good.

JaxMax is FED UP up with the Moon.

Bomb the Moon.

Posted by: JaxMax | October 6, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse

All lives lost fighting are lost in vain, there's nothing more to save except our well beyond shattered reputation.

Posted by: Crucialitis | October 6, 2009 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Let's be frank.

Al-Qaeda is NOT in Iraq.

They are not in Iran (who have killed more al-Qaeda and more Taliban than we ever will).

They are not in Afghanistan.

They ARE in Saudi Arabia and Yemen - where they get almost all (more than 95 percent) of their money and their volunteers and their Wahhabi extremist religious texts.

You don't win by attacking where people WERE.

You attack where they ARE.

Bring all the troops home - NOW.

And, quite frankly, if four neutron bombs happened to fall on Saudi Arabia ... that would be a good thing.

Posted by: WillSeattle | October 6, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Well - it looks like this "Overseas Contingency Operation" is realy heating up. This a war folks and the kill ratio the last week has been about 10 to 20 to one, our favor, but, then we are not supposed to keep count. THAT IS CALLED WINNING THE WAR!! I suppose it counts more when we can formulate plans that result in other countries having good feelings about us or liking us. Get real people - this is a fighting war. Terrain is difficult and we are usually damned if we do or damned if we don't. These are terrorists, murderers and in general, not very nice people who want to kill us here or over there. Wake up!!

Posted by: veritas7 | October 6, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse

The reason we are lossing now and why we lost in vietnam is because we were and are limited to what we can do because of government restrictions. In vietnam it was a police action and we couldn't do what it took to get things done because we were restricted on what we were allowed to do. Now its starting to look the same way. We can't go into pakistan because they told us not to cross into their country. I say to hell with that. If it's a threat to our country to have people that want us dead hide in your country and plot to kill us all over the world then I say no border is off limits and that we should do what ever it takes to rid the world of this kind of threat.

Posted by: rainman2 | October 6, 2009 2:14 PM | Report abuse

I was looking at the Riz Khan Show last night on Al-Jazeera TV. The interview subject was Peter Galbraith, an American who worked with the UN in Afghanistan in setting up the recent "elections" there. Galbraith was fired by no less than the UN Secretary General for making comments about inadequacy of the elections in Afghanistan, being told first to keep quiet, and then when he did not, he was fired.
If he was told to keep quiet about the phoney elections, then the UN itself is coving up the fraud, and therefore is not trustworthy. Galbraith claimed that 25% of the ballots were falsified, and that some came from places where ballot boxes were never taken, such places being under the control of the Taliban, who did not allow votes to be taken in their areas. Most of the ballots from such areas came back for the eventual winner and current occupier of the Presidency, Karzai.
This whole topic may sound off-topic, but the UN has for years taken part with the prohibitionist governments in attempting to extirpate cannabis from all over the world. Such an effort includes current prohibitionistic efforts by the UN to do so in Afghanistan, where the Taliban are allegedly funded by receipts from cannabis sales, and the population, mostly as a whole including the police of all persuasions, enjoy cannabis, both consuming it and exporting it in large quantities. In doing so, the UN is both buying into the prohibitionist lie and spreading the lie, and enforcing the lie as well. Cannabis users have long known that the UN was untrustworthy because of its control and use as a tool by lying prohibitionists. But to fraudulently rig a national election in favor of the prohibitionist tool Karzai is the last straw. So much for democracy! So much for the truth! And so much for freedom!
It's no wonder that NATO is losing the war in Afghanistan. And the UN is losing too! It seems to have lost touch with the people eons ago. So whose elections now are safe? And just what is the meaning, or even the use, of the UN anymore. It`s become just another tool of belligerency for the worldwide prohibitionist conspiracy against freedom and democracy. One can only feel that it will soon join the League of Nations in the dustbin of history.

Posted by: bong_jamesbong2001 | October 6, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Our objective in Iraq is to deny al-Qaida sanctuary, not nation building. The generals appear to have concluded that we can not deny sanctuary without defeating and expelling the Taliban, which requires nation building. This will take decades and high troop counts. Are the generals correct? If not what is the strategy and troop level that will deny al-Qaida sanctuary without all out nation building?

Posted by: i1mind | October 6, 2009 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Recall the "famous Downing Street Memo"?? Wasn't the WaPo one of the principle US apologists for ignoring it? "Nothing new here, kiddies. Move along".

Posted by: dl221 | October 6, 2009 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Col. Kurtz needs to be taken out. This is going to be Viet Nam all over again. Many republicans would have liked to have seen more of our soldiers killed in Viet Nam. Afghanistan has no value as a strategic stepping stone to our safety in the U.S. Cut our losses and get out.

Posted by: blarsen1 | October 6, 2009 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone—liberal, moderate, or conservative—honestly believe that Barack Obama has the character and intelligence to win in Afghanistan, Iraq, or anywhere else in the world?

===

Trick question. No one does, and 'win' is subjective.

Posted by: Crucialitis | October 6, 2009 1:51 PM | Report abuse

The general did nothing wrong as far as I'm concerned. he has the best interests of the country in mind. I keep hearing he should have kept his request in private. It goes along the same route as the healthcare debate. if the government won't listen to you, you go public and get the american people to debate and decide. This group trying to run the country now doesn't seem to want to listen to the people that elected them into office on any issue. This general did the right thing. The country needs to be stablized berore we can leave. Just putting drones in the air doe nothing to help stablized the country. All that would to is keep them at bay, (in hiding) until the right time to come out and cause all hell.

Posted by: rainman2 | October 6, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Continuing to fight something intangible like an ideal, which can recruit multiple new followers for each loss was a losing battle from the start. We are fighting something that cannot die.

We're wasting our money being the world's policeman. Cut and run.

And the next time anyone wants to start a war, they should stand in front of the Vietnam memorial and dare to start it with the stark reality of that wall behind them.

Posted by: Crucialitis | October 6, 2009 1:48 PM | Report abuse

I really think we should send more troops because we need to wrap up this war quickly and the best way to do that is a troop surge. Some would say that if we pulled out that would end it but then we failed and all the people that died have died in vain and all the money spent on the war would have been for nothing so lets go for Victory.

Posted by: LaurenceRoebke | October 6, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Me thinks, BHO has made up his mind on how to deal with Taliban - btw a phenomenon created, funded and trained by CIA + Pak/ISI to dislodge Soviet occupation of Kbaul. There will be no increase in ground forces and he'll set a cap to enforce his decision.

Posted by: hariknaidu | October 6, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Dramatics are good in theater - but not in state craft and diplomacy. You're masking yourself too important - as a pundit - than what a war-making decision demands from POTUS.

Now, American occupation of Kabul is the issue at hand. And America and its allies will be dislodged and/or destroyed on the ground - as previous invaders/occupation forces - since the time of Alexander The Great.

Me thinks, BHO has made up his mind on how to deal with Taliban - a phenomenon created, funded and trained by CIA + Pak/ISI to dislodge Soviet occupation of Kabul. There will be no increase in ground forces and he'll set a cap to enforce his decision.


Posted by: hariknaidu | October 6, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone—liberal, moderate, or conservative—honestly believe that Barack Obama has the character and intelligence to win in Afghanistan, Iraq, or anywhere else in the world?

Posted by: Jerzy | October 6, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Obama is a bad joke perpetrated on millions of suckers. Wake up..

Posted by: SMWE357 | October 6, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse

In the photo Gen. Stanley McChrystal looks Obama in the eye, while our fearless leader looks down. Obama is way out of his league and our kids are stranded without reinforcements.

Posted by: militarymom1

----------------------------------------

It's pretty obvious that Obama is talking and happens to be blinking in the photo. McChrystal is looking at Obama while he talks. Don't let reality get in the way of your pre-determined outcomes though.

Look into McChrystal and his willful cover up of Pat Tillman's friendly fire incident. He played politics with a fallen soldier's life and he's gone public with his opinions which is a clear breech of protocol.

Posted by: theobserver4 | October 6, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse

In an unprecedented move Obama has announced the first emergency shipment of Tort Attorneys to Afganistan. Obama was heard to say, "Wait until the Taliban get a taste of the cost to defend these law suits."

_________________________

Common_Cents1: Genocide, drone attack by drone attack...and not a liberal trial lawyer in sight to defend the rights of the pregnant women, elderly and children killed and maimed by Obama's bombing campaign.

Posted by: Bubbette1 | October 6, 2009 1:37 PM | Report abuse

I fully agree whatever Obama decides will prove crucial in how he's 'evaluated.' Clearly its a defining moment. That said, he inherited this war and I am prepared to give him the leeway to use his best judgement to wrap it up.

The war in Afganhistan was handled poorly in the beginning, and at this stage of game-- the cost to his domestic agenda, must weighed despite pressures to escalate.

There will never, ever, be any win to acclaim in "that part" of the world. Losing his supporters here on the other hand, will prove to much more detrimental. http://www.vernasmith.com

Posted by: Victoria5 | October 6, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

President Obama has to decide how badly he wants to build the oil and gas pipeline across Afghanistan into Pakistan to the Arabian Sea. Unocal, Chevron, and Pennzoil all want the pipeline because of the explosive profits to be made by selling to Asia. Europe is seen as a declining market. The profits are expected to be in the trillions of dollars.

President Obama: is this what you want? Do you want our young to die for oil? Aren't there already enough deaths in Iraq for oil? How long do the young have to keep dying for oil?

Posted by: francis4 | October 6, 2009 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Well so far so good. He's stood strong on reviewing the facts and considering all pertinent perspectives before making a decision. I trust the process, so I trust the president to make the best decision possible.

Posted by: onifadee | October 6, 2009 1:20 PM | Report abuse

The author of this article is asking a lot, in asking " that he has both the judgment and the strength to bring this war in Afghanistan to a satisfactory conclusion." That may not be possible, and we were well aware of this when we elected him. It is not fair to demand of Obama that he bring this war to a satisfactory conclusion, because, satisfying all parties involved may be beyond anyone's abilities. It would be enough to increase cooperation with the Pakistanis in cornering, and rooting out the most entrenched elements of Taliban, and Al Qaeda in North West Pakistan, and free up troops to engage Al Qaeda where they manifest around the globe. Afghanistan is the graveyard of empires, and one would have to be rather ignorant, or masochistic to go there in the first place. Al Qaeda moved to Pakistan long ago, when they were put out of Africa, and why we didn't go were they were, instead of everywhere they weren't is an enduring mystery, but it can be corrected now. Al Qaeda is active in Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen, but they are not the only terrorist organization, that is well funded, organized, and exporting terror, there is Iran, via its proxies in Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine. If all this seems too much to deal with, this is reality- don't kid yourself that just sending a little troop surge to Afghanistan is going to suddenly make everything better- it won't. The number one situation driving terrorism in the world is that Israel refuses to share the land peaceably with their Palestinian neighbors, and this is something no one in the West wants to address with the urgency it deserves.

Posted by: davideconnollyjr | October 6, 2009 1:02 PM | Report abuse

EFFECTIVE AND REAL NATIONAL SECURITY - HOW TO HANDLE WAR ON TERRORISTS____

First, as fundamental motto; NO NEGOTIATION, NO TALKING WITH FANATIC EXTREMIST ASSASSINS,...in others words... TO THE LIONS WITH ALL OF THEM!

THE AFGANISTAN SITUATION - or any other place infected with terrorists;

This is so simple;

1. A LOT OF TROOPS.

2. A FORMIDABLE TOP OF THE LINE EQUIPMENT AND SUPPLIES.

And for tactical and strategy? - HUNT DOWN THOSE TERRORIST LIKE THERE IS NO TOMORROW...FIND THEM, KILL THEM ALL, TAKE NO PRISONERS...NO CONTEMPLATION....NO LENIANCY...NO MERCY IN ANY FORM,...JUST COMPLETE AND EFFECTIVE PULVERIZATION - CASE CLOSE.
______________

I SENT THIS TO VERY MANY LEFTIES SITES IN THE NET,... AND THEY HATE MY GUTS----
"____
VERY-VERY SHORT AND STRAIGHT SO EVEN I CAN UNDERSTAND IT;____

1. Should Obama does not comply with the needs of our military men and women in Afganistan - or any other place for that matter - meaning, troops and appropiate equipment, WE LOOSE THE WAR AGAINST TERRORISM FOR AL-QAEDA AND OTHERS TERRORIST FACTIONS WILL GAIN ROBUST POWER AND CONTIUE THEIR DESTRUCTIVE AGENDA.

2. Should Obama does not solidarize(at least morally) with Israel when they launch to oblitarate the atomic faciclities in Iran, THAT IS A DIRECT EVIDENCE THAT OBAMA IS A TERRORIST FROM WITHIN.....What is more ,...IF ISRAEL DOES NOT TAKE IRANIAN ATOMIC FACILITIES RIGHT NOW.... WE ARE TO EXPERIENCE A NUCLEAR ATTACK TO ISRAEL AND OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD AS WELL.

There,short, plain and simple, ...three neurons (uno, dos, tres) ONLY THREE BLASTED NEURONS are enough to process this one.

And how your day is going so far?

Daniel Cabrera
Merrillville,Indiana

PS;- SHARE THIS WITH THOSE TWO OTHERS BAMBOOZOS - PSEUDO-JOURNALISTS FROM THE TV TABLOID MSNBC...(OLBERMAN AND SHUSTER)___"

Posted by: morcab | October 6, 2009 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Regardless of the size of the force America has in Afghanistan and Pakistan, America should not be the only force there. The threat from the Taliban is not America's problem only, so the other nations that suffer from the Taliban should put their skin in the game.

Or is it that only America perceives the Taliban as a problem that needs addressing? If that is the case, then America needs to seriously rethink why we are the only ones with that perception. Are we wrong?

Assuming America is NOT wrong, then why are we unable to bring any other country to the table to be our allies? Not just Britain and western "Christian" countries; but the eastern "Moslem" and "Arab" countries. Where is Saudi Arabia in this? Why are they (seemingly) willing to not take a leadership position against violent extremists?

Posted by: egc52556 | October 6, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

In the photo Gen. Stanley McChrystal looks Obama in the eye, while our fearless leader looks down. Obama is way out of his league and our kids are stranded without reinforcements.

Posted by: militarymom1 | October 6, 2009 12:53 PM | Report abuse

This defining "moment" for Obama is the result of seven "years" of George Walker Bush's strategy for Afganistan.

Posted by: whocares666 | October 6, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Can we find an Oliver Hardy to hit Obama with a hat while he does his Stan Laurel over Afghanistan?

Posted by: edbyronadams | October 6, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse

While the Afghanistan debate deflects attention from the "homeland"...

A MILITARY/SECURITY 'MULTI-AGENCY COORDINATED ACTION PROGRAM' DEPLOYS SILENT, INJURY- AND ILLNESS-INDUCING, MIND-ALTERING, 'SLOW-KILL' MICROWAVE AND LASER DIRECTED ENERGY WEAPONS SYSTEMS AGAINST 'TARGETED' AMERICAN CITIZENS...

...AN AMERICAN GENOCIDE HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT.

The Obama administration's greatest flaw is also mainstream media's:

A failure to recognize that crimes against humanity and the Constitution are being committed by an ideologically-driven cabal within powerful military, security and intelligence agencies -- targeting many thousands of innocent Americans on the basis of their political activism, their whistle-blowing, their lifestyles, or their ethnicity...

...a GRASSROOTS GESTAPO that uses warrantless GPS/cell phone tracking of individuals and classified microwave/laser radiation directed energy weapons systems to commit an American genocide/politicide...

...enabled by the naivete of centrists, liberals and progressives who choose to believe it "can't happen here."

It can, it has -- and YOU may be the next victim.

http://nowpublic.com/world/gestapo-usa-govt-funded-vigilante-network-terrorizes-america OR (if links are corrupted): http://NowPublic.com/scrivener RE: "GESTAPO USA"

Posted by: scrivener50 | October 6, 2009 12:44 PM | Report abuse

The author wrote,
"The longer Obama waits to make this decision, the more he will be subjected to questions about whether he is tough enough and resolute enough to be commander in chief."
&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&

What kind of nonsense is this? Is this supposed to be 'in depth reporting'?

President Obama is the Commander in Chief, period. Whether he's "tough enough" is irrelevant. If the right wing doesn't like it, they can wait until the next presidential election and do what they have to do.

Posted by: francis4 | October 6, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

"This is once again an AMERICA must win discussion".

Win what? You can't "win" in Afghanistan. Only Afghani's can win. America lost when Bush turned his back and invaded Iraq. He should have installed Karzai, warned that if they allowed their soil to be used to attack America we'd hit them again and left. Al Qaida is foreign to Afghanistan. Let them kick out the 'foreigners'.

Posted by: thebobbob | October 6, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

If the CIA hadn't organized and armed the TALIBAN to overthrow the Russian occupation; we could have well watched a 9/11 attack on Moscow and saved all those lives and money spent on AFGHANISTAN.

..doncha love 'WHAT-IF'speculation!

Posted by: Common_Cents1 | October 6, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Genocide, drone attack by drone attack...and not a liberal trial lawyer in sight to defend the rights of the pregnant women, elderly and children killed and maimed by Obama's bombing campaign.

That said, there is an advantage to having a total neophyte with ZERO military background systematically wade through the various policy options....if he does a thorough job and assigns the 'right' weights to the various factors.

This is once again an AMERICA must win discussion...too lose is unthinkable...pulling out is to lose...occupying a 'green zone' around Kabul with advisers, security 'guards' and counter insurgency specialists is the default position.

Surge? and give credence to McCain...unthinkable.

Withdrawal timetable?...um, what happened to that timeline?

HOUSE DEMS' propose ending appropriations for Afghan...Now what does that do to the mix of options.

Posted by: Common_Cents1 | October 6, 2009 12:27 PM | Report abuse

As long as the US is intent on destroying the poppy crops, the Afghans will be enemies of the US. It would be like an occupying force telling all the tobacco farmers in America to stop growing tobacco and give up their livlihood.

Posted by: oracle2world | October 6, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

I trust President Obama to analyze carefully and make what he thinks is the best decision for the nation.

I would remind General McChrystal and the GOP that we've been at this almost eight years, longer than the Second World War. George W. Bush and the military had a long time to get Afghanistan in hand. Why didn't they?

Again, I trust President Obama to decide, and I know that even if he decides to do whatever the GOP wants him to do, they will criticize him. Negative and nasty--that's who they are.

Posted by: tinyjab40 | October 6, 2009 12:25 PM | Report abuse

All Hail the Ditherer In Chief.

Posted by: Bubbette1 | October 6, 2009 12:15 PM | Report abuse

JUST END IT.

Posted by: usapdx | October 6, 2009 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Uhh, tough decisions ahead:

- Should I go to Letterman or Leno?

- Arial-16 or Times-18 in the teleprompter?

- Michelle would like another date in Europe. Paris or Venetia?

- A new pet for the girls?

- Shall I invite Michael Vick to the White House?

though, though.

Posted by: tropicalfolk | October 6, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

A military victory in Afghanistan is an oxymoron. That is bloody clear to all with eyes to see. None are so blind as they who refuse to see. Obama is no different than Bush on this score. If fact, by arresting Cindy Sheehan, he is worse.

Posted by: Spiritof761 | October 6, 2009 11:55 AM | Report abuse

yesterday, some 60 anti-war demonstrators were arrested for actually using their 1st amendment rights and duties outside the white house. among them this great woman, who had this to say...

Elizabeth McAlister: “The powers of death and destruction reign, or so it seems, but they are undone. So, dear friends, let us not be awed by the mayhem with which the powers of this world will bamboozle us. Let us embrace intransigent resistance. Let us imagine a new world is possible. And then let us live as if that new world were indeed among us, and so live it into being.”

Posted by: tazdelaney | October 6, 2009 11:54 AM | Report abuse

"...a defining moment for Obama..." Gee, did George the Worst ever have any defining moments? Other than the one where he was reading "My Pet Goat?"

Posted by: dotellen | October 6, 2009 11:52 AM | Report abuse

This is a defining moment for Obama. He has made his case that he is a great synthesizer of cross currents to meld the middle of the road solution. Alas, Afghanistan does not lend itself to these talents.

The decision he reaches will be revelatory and damaging to his standing no matter what he decides.

Posted by: edbyronadams | October 6, 2009 11:48 AM | Report abuse

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