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Is Obama Dithering on Afghanistan?

Our Readers Who Comment are strenuously arguing this morning about whether a secret Pentagon war game that evaluated the results of sending either 44,000 or 15,000 more troops to Afghanistan was just more dithering by the Obama Administration on what to do about the U.S. commitment to that country.

As Greg Jaffe and Karen DeYoung report, "What was intended to be two or three weeks of intensive White House meetings has stretched on for almost a month. Obama and his national security advisers have sorted through the military and civilian aspects of the war, building toward a decision that many on the outside have urged be made sooner rather than later."

There are several angry posts that see only dithering. There are several other posts that think careful study is exactly the right thing to do. Many draw comparisons with Vietnam (comments for some weeks now see Afghanistan as a repeat, no-win situation) and note that American lives are being lost every day, including this one.

We'll start with an uncivilized comment from fenoy, who wrote in full, "Obozzo continues to dither.........."

To which onifadee replied, "If this is dithering than I hope we dither on every social, economic, and military issue."

And B2O2 said, "I sure wish Bush and Cheney had "dithered" a little longer before invading Iraq. I'll take dithering over "decisively" rash, stupid, ill-informed and dishonest any day of the week."

But letswin wrote, "Wow with all of this data it will probably take President Obama through Christmas to make a decision, oh but then the excuse will be this is not the type of decision you make during the holidays..."

douglaslbarber said, "Thank God we finally have a head of state in the USA who regards enlisted people's lives as worthy of study before consigning them to enemy fire."

satgroup wrote, "Here is a scenario you can test. How fast can we get our troops out of Afghanistan. That is the only scenario you should be testing... So quit screwing around and bring out troops home now."

johnplover1 said, "The favorite Seat Of Government (SOG) strategy, when a decision is time sensitive but unpleasant, is to postpone making the decision until the window of opportunity has closed; thereby making the decision irrelevant. God help us, we're playing politics with American lives."

Rubiconski wrote, "...No politician in America dares stating the obvious: "We lost in Afghanistan. Therefore, we get out." And soldiers as well as people keep dying in Afghanistan, because Americas politicians don't have the guts to admit, what the whole world knows already."

WPguy said, "The US is getting far too involved in the running of this nation, and Obama should not need such such excessive time to make his decisions regarding Afghanistan... Are there other issues that he should be spending his time on?"

But AxelDC wrote, "Bush-Cheney put Afghanistan on the backburner for 6 years as they pursued their fool's errand in Iraq. Why all of a sudden does Cheney and his lackeys see a sense of urgency that does not allow for careful reflection on the next steps? Could it be that they are just trying to kneecap Obama and cover their own incompetencies as war leaders?"

kcandcats said, "My youngest MARINE son is in Afghanistan with the "Strike Of The Sword", and I am horrified at the adverse commitment, and procrastination of the President to make a decision! My son and thousands of young men are in harms way promising the poor people of Afghanistan a better life, while "politics" and "war games" are being played with ALL their lives!... Wake up America!!!!!"

francis4 wrote, "This is such a tragedy and it is so easily remedied: withdraw completely... Where is the change I thought I voted for? Why are we even in Afghanistan? Why have we spent eight years there? Time to cut our losses, withdraw and help the folks back home..."

To which Julescator replied, "I think the CHANGE is that the President is actually working through the strategies on the table to try as best they can what the outcomes will be. Thie problem is that both these wars are a quagmire, which is why this kind of thinking should have taken place 8 years ago..."

demtse predicted that "All the PS2 war gaming "scenarios" in the world won't forestall the inevitability, that this conflict will not end with a western-styled democracy."

We'll close with kilgore_nobiz, who recalled that "Back in 1964 and 65 the Pentagon ran multiple exercises deriving what would be proven to be startlingly accurate results of that war [in Vietnam]... And yet they still supported the ill-fated middle-course that LBJ proposed as a way to prove he was tough to the hawks, but not so tough to the doves that they wouldn't kill his bold domestic agenda. Does any of this sound familiar?

All comments on this article are here.

By Doug Feaver  |  October 26, 2009; 7:36 AM ET
Categories:  Afghanistan , Obama  | Tags: Afghanistan, Obama  
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Comments

obama is dithering and rightfully so, it is true afghanistan has nothing to offer for the U.S. so why are we there? we are there because we dont have permission to be in Pakistan, the ultimate fear, which is about pakistan's nuclear bombs, is that in order for the U.S to win the war they need to get into pakistan. but the marriage of convenience with pakistan is preventing that and Obama's dithering is to prevent world war three and the best way to fight off terrorism. Mr. president take your time the future of many things depends on this stigma of a war.

Posted by: Aseebniazi | October 26, 2009 8:10 PM | Report abuse

Wonder how the troops feel about the dithering? 14 more killed.

Posted by: Bubbette1 | October 26, 2009 6:57 PM | Report abuse

President Obama is not dithering, but probably is feeling more and more the ties of domestic and international political obligations which constrain him; with the perception of success or failure becoming as real as any actual progress or lack thereof.
For an average American family which is asked to bear any burden, to pay any price; Afghanistan is not the be-all, end-all. Most of the 9-11 terrorists were Saudis who did not practice their mission by flying the friendly skies of Afghanistan. Terrorism is hydra-headed and ubiquitous.

Posted by: elfraed | October 26, 2009 5:20 PM | Report abuse

On March 27 Obama stated, "Today, I am announcing a comprehensive, new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan....So I want the American people to understand that we have a clear and focused goal: to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to prevent their return to either country in the future....I have already ordered the deployment of 17,000 troops..." He also replaced General McKiernan with his man General McChrystal.

What did I miss. He all ready has a plan and has not told the American people he feels it to have failed. However, in spite of this, he now has procrastinated for 45 days about acting on the recommendations of the individual he assigned to execute his comprehensive strategy.

Dithering! I think that word is far to mild.

To all of those who talk of how he is taking time not to make a mistake, what did he do in March? You cannot have it both ways. In the meantime our troops are dying.

Posted by: Wordreader | October 26, 2009 3:47 PM | Report abuse

By not immediately committing the extra troops to Afganistan Obama was able to force Karzai into a runoff. If we cannot tame the corruption in Afganistan then our troop build up will be wasteful. Delaying our troop commitment is cleary a negotiating tactic to try and gain some leverage in forging a legitimate government in Afganistan. I

Posted by: mleamer | October 26, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

What General of what nation in the history
of the world ever said he had enough troops? Do we really need 40,000 more troops in Aghanistan? Perhaps,400,000 would be better. How about 4 million? Is it possible we never should have had any
troops at all in this godless country? I don't know. You don't know. Even Obama
does not know. God bless.

Posted by: captainal | October 26, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Bush now wishes he spent time dithering before he stood on an aircraft carrier with a sign that stated "Mission Accomplished" Take time to "dither" like golf there is no such thing as a (DO OVER)

Posted by: alan15 | October 26, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

If its on drudge then its got to be true....


ok stop laughing now.


President Obama is a leader. He is not a shoot from the hip chimp. Unlike others we could name.... he is reviewing the mes left behind, seeing what the options are, and rushing in now would be more foolish than say-- invading some foreign nation on flase pretenses -- because the poltiical situation is unstable and anything that appears to be intervention would make it worse.

Posted by: John1263 | October 26, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse

There are two parts to this issue, a near term strategy and a comprehensive strategy. A near term strategy is what you have to maintian your forces while a comprehesive strategy is developed. Its a protection strategy meant to minimize your vulnerabliites without losing ground. Maintain the status quo, so to speak. The problem here is that the perception is that he is dithering on both. Whether or not it is true, the mere perception by the troops that their Commander in Chief is hanging them out to dry while he plays politics will destroy morale and cost lives.

Posted by: akmzrazor | October 26, 2009 12:33 PM | Report abuse

I'm afraid Senator Hatch is correct when he questions whether Obama is delaying for political reasons. It seem as if our boys lives are secondary. He is Cammander in Chief not politican in chief.

Posted by: edson1 | October 26, 2009 12:32 PM | Report abuse

"Dithering" on Afghanistan is only the philosophical brawl among republicans and democrats, but there is another side that most people who have never served in the army are clueless about. The logistics!

A) Are there ready quarters in Afghanistan with heat and hot water (winter is coming there too) for 40.000 troops? B) Are there secured food supplies for 40.000 more U.S. troops from bordering countries depots? C) Are there supporting personnel in place for cooking, laundering, maintenance, communications installations, and storage facilities? D) Are there enough equipment, such as armored personnel carriers, trucks, ammunition, and an organizational structure in place to assimilate 40.000 more troops?

Well, those things have to be set up after
the executive order is signed. And even with the thousands of military contractors around, the larger the deployment, the more messy it is, and the more time it takes for everything to fall into place.
And I believe that even if Obama signs the executive order for a large troop deployment in Afghanistan today, I don't see how that force will be fully settled, equipped, and fully operational until April or May 2010.

Public opinion on "Dithering" in Afghanistan, is, therefore, an opinion in a vacuum, because the "political and military realities" of Afghanistan are more like "our economic slump." There is no quick way in and out! And "Dithering"
in Dick Cheney's head, as well as "dithering" talk on the media about Afghanistan is more about "sound-bites" among foes - than about facts on U.S. policy. Nikos Retsos, retired professor

Posted by: Nikos_Retsos | October 26, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Yes, Obama is playing golf. A story at Drudge Report says he's played more golf in nine months than Bush did in two years.

And we thought the Bush years were bad!

~~~

That's because Bush spent 8 years chopping down tumbleweeds at the ranch and starting 2 wars.

Posted by: lcarter0311 | October 26, 2009 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Yes, Obama is playing golf. A story at Drudge Report says he's played more golf in nine months than Bush did in two years.

And we thought the Bush years were bad!

Posted by: kathy26

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

yea the Bush years were bad; as bad as it gets in fact. So Obama has played more golf than Bush......has he exceeded Bush's vacation time for the first 9 months yet?

All your comment states is that Obama plays more golf than Bush. Wooopie!!! Bush rode his mountain bike way more than Obama has and he's certainly cleared more brush than Obama.

See how meaningless that statement is....

Posted by: theobserver4 | October 26, 2009 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Obama - dithering
Bush - "Bring 'em on"
comparison - thoughtful or rash

Obama - ask questions first, shoot later
Bush - ready, fire, aim
comparison - good of the country or political expendiency

Obama - elicit expert advice, then act
Bush - do whatever Cheney and Rumsfeld tell me
comparison - adult or childlike

Obama - focus
Bush - "dead or alive"
comparison - success or failure

Posted by: seattle_wa | October 26, 2009 12:14 PM | Report abuse

He should send Cheney and his daughters plus Bush and his whole family.

Then, like another person said, send the 40 Republicans in the Senate, and many of the Republican Congress and their families.

Oh, forgot Sarah and her clan, they have already gone Rogue!

Posted by: jrubin1 | October 26, 2009 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Only in Neocon fantasy land would weighing options and doing studies considered dithering.

Their entire foreign policy boils down to the mantra "rush into it, more bombs, more profits". So why would we listen to these clown shoes when they complain that someone is weighing options???

A: Because they're nothing more than a partisan hack.

Posted by: theobserver4 | October 26, 2009 12:12 PM | Report abuse


Dithering might be a good thing if the Commander-in-Chief didn't have the "dithering" history of just voting present on tough issues.

Makes him very suspect.

Or if he didn't have this history of saying one thing and meaning another. It is kinda like trying to to put a square peg in a round hole with him.

Posted by: bnw173 | October 26, 2009 12:10 PM | Report abuse

President Obama knows in his heart that we should not abandon Afghanistan (again) and let the Taliban take over (again) and allow Afghanistan to become a safe haven for Al-Qaida (again)but he is facing political pressure from moveon.org types who think that Taliban thugs beating and raping and killing young girls and terrorizing the whole population with no US intervention is "peace". Plus the fact that more $$ and votes can be had for doing the wrong thing than the right thing. I hope he will live up to his convictions and his Nobel Prize and put the required troops and effort into Afghanistan.

Posted by: sam38 | October 26, 2009 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Yes, Obama is playing golf. A story at Drudge Report says he's played more golf in nine months than Bush did in two years.

And we thought the Bush years were bad!

Posted by: kathy26 | October 26, 2009 11:54 AM | Report abuse

The U.S. has been in Afghanistan for 8 years so what's the big deal for a couple months to assess the mission and endgame. There's no oil there for us to take, no personal grudge against the Taliban and there is no financial incentive of us. What's best for our National Interest is not necessarily what is best for our military and for Afghanistan

Posted by: crudblue | October 26, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Why is it "dithering" when it is not your child or daughter who may die? If the MISSION ACCOMPLISHED Banner had not hung prematurely...this war might have been won by now. Now we have an unfinished Iraqi situation and unstarted Afganistanian problem.
Mr. President, take your time, new troops could not get there before June in any case.

Posted by: october30 | October 26, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Obama should stop dithering and send 40,000 Republicans to Afghanistan immediately.

Posted by: hamishdad | October 26, 2009 11:40 AM | Report abuse

The Al Qaida poured into Iraq when we went in there from all over the middle east to fight the infidels. We beat the daylights out of them there and the remaining fled for Afghanistan and Pakistan where they joined up with the Taliban and are at it again. Obama is finally realizing that Bush's job was not that simple. Just being "against war" was a good campaign slogan but now faced with hard reality he is frozen in time putting the politics of his base before the troops. It does not take this long to make a decision and the elections in Afghanistan will make no difference in the strategy.

Posted by: katie6 | October 26, 2009 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Silly republicons -- they learned nothing from dubya. It is only a chimp, an imbecile, a true fool, that sends soldiers into battle without any plan. It is the simpering idjit who starts wars of aggression.

President Obama is doing exactly the right thing. Allowing the plitical situation in Afghanistan to stabalize, weighing options, studying the situation with experts --- not partisan ideologues with no military experience or brains --- and taking the time to get it right.

If cheney/bushco had a clue we would not be engaged militarily in Afghanistan at all. It would have been finished years ago. republicon conservatives should shut their pie holes, pull their heads out from where their old food is supposed to be, and take a lesson from a real leader.

Posted by: John1263 | October 26, 2009 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Oh please dither, President Obama, and mire us in an endless war for reasons that are specious at best, while people die. On the other hand, don't let the people who were truly responsible for 9/11 - the Taliban and al-Queda - run free to open more training camps. Find the balance, Mr. President.

Posted by: baycat571 | October 26, 2009 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Dithering was a pleasant term Cheney used!!

Obama is lost in space!!!

Posted by: jjcrocket2 | October 26, 2009 11:13 AM | Report abuse

The mark of the hidebound conservative is a level of certainty that is uterly lacking in forethought.

Posted by: palnicki | October 26, 2009 11:09 AM | Report abuse

not to decide is to decide

Posted by: w04equals666 | October 26, 2009 10:59 AM | Report abuse

...
..
.
would someone tell president johnson, er i mean president obama to spend sometime reading up on the vietnam war.. .. and maybe sometime reading about groupthink..
.
..
...

Posted by: w04equals666 | October 26, 2009 10:58 AM | Report abuse

I, too, prefer a President that actually thinks before striking instead of blindly sending more and more troops and materiel. Cheney failed with this strategy, folks. Why are you listening to him at all?

Posted by: lurkitty | October 26, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Maybe Republicans are anxious to have Obama blink and put more troops at risk in Afghanistan and throw more money there.

The smart minority of them knows it is a no-win situation and will be a big liability in 2012. More US troops will mean more US casualties and more expense to the US. Afghanistan will remain chaotic and corrupt. The Taliban will persist, whether incognito or in Pakistan. The population will graviate against the occupation to the degree that we try (fruitlessly) to "take, hold, and secure" hundreds of villages the Afghan government cannot.

The knee-jerk majority, meanwhile, is easily persuaded that the Mideast and Central Asia need only a few big boasts, bombs, body bags, and Bibles to be set right. Rush says, so it must be true. That is quite scary.

Posted by: jkoch2 | October 26, 2009 10:51 AM | Report abuse

If this was a vote in Congress and Obama still a Senator, Obama would vote "Present."

However, now that he is the President, he's afraid to make a decision and is waiting for someone or something else to either make the decision for him or give him a way out of having to make a decision.

Posted by: ahashburn | October 26, 2009 10:50 AM | Report abuse

President Obama is not dithering! He waiting for the outcome of the elections rerun. Why would Obama put more Americans in harms way for a corrupt government. If Karzi wins in the rerun election, President Obama has no choice but to withdraw Americans troops. Backing a greedy and corrupt government will further down grade the US in the World. Do not make the mistake of going into Pakistan!!! Bush and Cheney are both still responsible for Iraq and Afghanistan. PERIOD!!!!!!

Posted by: jk330 | October 26, 2009 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Instead of silly yellow ribbons, tough talk, and other fake gestures of support for the troops, we should have a surtax for the war. Only if the American people and both parties will support a so-called surge with a real commitment using REAL MONEY money instead of more debt, will the troops (and our enemies) know we are serious.

We should never borrow money for wars if possible. If it isn't worth paying for immediately with some public sacrifice, then we are not serious and we should quit playing around and get out.

Posted by: ajmorgan | October 26, 2009 10:44 AM | Report abuse

pussyfooting, dilly-dallying, riding the fence, prognosticating, wavering, fluxed---

presidential.

not infantile, impulsive, pre-determined.

Posted by: forestbloggod | October 26, 2009 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Obama is dealing with more important matters like playing golf with women.

Posted by: pkhenry | October 26, 2009 10:37 AM | Report abuse

President Dither has to wait until after the NJ and VA. gubernatorial elections so the libs won't get depressed and not turn out to vote for dems. Priorities are important, you know.

Posted by: steve007 | October 26, 2009 10:34 AM | Report abuse

This one need intelligence not rumor mongers like GOP and Fox. Let the right persons decide what to do in afganistan. Planning and right analysis is the right solutions for this serious problems we have. The loudest shout usually a shallow water.

Posted by: alvin1435 | October 26, 2009 10:33 AM | Report abuse

This president can not make up his mind when to go to the bathroom. Meanwhile he continues to put our troops at risk.

Posted by: buzzychief | October 26, 2009 10:32 AM | Report abuse

IF HE MAKES A DECISION AFTER THIS ELECTION CYCLE, AFTER NOV 3...
IT WAS A DELAYED DECISION BECAUSE OF THIS ELECTION CYCLE...

Posted by: DwightCollins | October 26, 2009 10:27 AM | Report abuse

The time to game a strategy is BEFORE committing to an engagement, NOT while you are engaging the enemy. People DIE while one dithers. Better an imperfect decision followed by action NOW than a perfect decision too late. "not deciding" is a decision.

Posted by: JWMeritt | October 26, 2009 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Really? Are you really picking this up and using Dick Cheney's meme? For 7 years you allowed the Bush administration to ignore Afghanistan, to get us into Iraq based on false pretenses, to fail miserably in New Orleans, but just 7 months into the new administration you are asking why they are not succeeding fast enough?

Gimme a break! Where were you when the Bush administration was failing miserably at everything. Where were you when everyone and their grandmother was calling for a new strategy in Iraq, and for the firing of that louse Rumsfeld? Did President Bush do it right away? NO. He waited until after the mid-term elections when Republicans got creamed, then fired Rumsfeld, and finally decided to adopt the Petraeus strategy. It's like you people just decided to forget the last 7 years and pretend Obama caused all these problems. Geez!

Posted by: osiuerer | October 26, 2009 10:18 AM | Report abuse

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