The Usual Suspects Excuse Presidential Dithering
Monday, the 57th day since Gen. McChrystal submitted his Afghanistan assessment, recommendations, and urgent troop request, President Obama and his advisers held yet another “high level” meeting (#6) to consider the matter.
While officials insist there is no possibility of abandoning the effort there seems to be a real possibility of an extended, Vietnam style stalemate and lack of commitment to success.
In the meantime, the usual suspects appeared in the media with the usual rhetoric.
Presidential adviser Valerie Jarrett appeared on MSNBC to chant the Administration’s talking points in defense of unconscionable delay. Ms. Jarrett tried to portray what is now 58 days of indecision as “prudence.” She began with a tedious string of bromides that added up to nothing.
The issue of what’s going to happen in Afghanistan is a very serious issue…It’s not something to be light about. What President Obama is going to do is make a decision prudently and expeditiously but also very thoughtfully. He’s had a series of meeting with his foreign policy team he’s pushed back on them. Any time we’re talking abut putting our men and women in harms way he’s going to make absolutely sure its the right decision.
Obviously, after two months of unexplained delay, it’s way too late for the decision to be “expeditious.” Ms. Jarrett continued:
But it isn’t as simple as the number of troops. It’s far more complicated than that. It’s whats gong on with the Afghan people, what are they doing to help in this process….
Nobody ever said it was as simple as the number of troops. In fact Gen. McChrystal’s 66 page report discusses the Afghan people, their needs and their probable reactions to various scenarios. Ms. Jarrett finished up with this assurance:
The President is going to be absolutely sure he’s making the right decision and hes going to do it according to his time table that he thinks is appropriate because he’s the commander in chief
Well, the troops waiting in Afghanistan, wondering why they are risking everything, may not appreciate such arrogance from a commander in chief who promised them in August:
I will give you a clear mission, defined goals, and all the equipment and support you need to get the job done.
Senator Carl Levin appearing of Fox News Sunday did his best to put a positive spin on Obama’s appalling indecision:
President bush waited three months in considering whether or not to surge troops in Iraq….I think history will show that Pres bush reached the right decision, it wasn’t the only cause for the improved situation in Iraq, to the extent it has improved, but none the less he took the three months.
Wait a minute! Are Democrats so desperate to excuse Obama they’ll even admit George W. Bush did something right?
Even as Levin grudgingly acknowledges success, we should not forget that he was a vocal opponent of the Iraq surge, who constantly predicted failure, in public, as the troops were engaged in high stakes, daily combat. He certainly has not shown wisdom as a military strategist that would qualify him to second guess General McChrystal.
The White House announced there was nothing to announce after Monday’s meeting except that later in the week Obama would meet with the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The first six meetings on the most important military strategy decision of his Presidency were with political strategists.
In his report of August 30, General McChrystal did his best to convey a sense of urgency:
Failure to gain the initiative and reverse insurgent momentum in the near-term (next 12 months) — while Afghan security capacity matures — risks an outcome where defeating the insurgency is no longer possible.
Two of those near-term, twelve months have now been dissipated by the President, who is afraid to decide to commit to the counterinsurgency strategy he announced was his decision back in March.