Troop decision remains stuck in neutral
By Ben Pershing
Just as it appeared President Obama might be on the verge of approving a new plan for Afghanistan, a crucial meeting Wednesday and a well-timed leak suggest the administration has gone back to the drawing board.
"Obama won't accept any of the Afghanistan war options before him without changes, a senior administration official said, as concerns soar over the ability of the Afghan government to secure its own country one day," the Associated Press reports. The key problem, as it has been for years, is corruption. The Washington Post writes that Karl Eikenberry, the U.S. ambassador in Kabul, "sent two classified cables to Washington in the past week expressing deep concerns about sending more U.S. troops to Afghanistan until President Hamid Karzai's government demonstrates that it is willing to tackle the corruption and mismanagement that has fueled the Taliban's rise."
The Wall Street Journal says "Eikenberry's concerns come late in the process, and it is unclear how they will ultimately affect Mr. Obama's decision making," adding, "Many of Mr. Eikenberry's concerns about Mr. Karzai have been raised by others involved in the White House deliberations, including by Mr. Obama." Given that much of the coverage before Wednesday's meeting suggested Obama was eyeing a plan -- endorsed by Robert Gates (and opposed by Vice President Biden?) -- to send 30,000-35,000 more troops, the widespread leak of Eikenberry's concerns marks an interesting turn in the internal White House battle.
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