Obama dithers on Afghanistan

Remember during the campaign when Obama wanted to strengthen his national security credentials and we were told that he would refocus the war effort on Afghanistan after the “distraction” of Iraq? Yeah, I didn’t believe it either. McClatchy reports:

Six months after it announced its strategy for Afghanistan, the Obama administration is sending mixed signals about its objectives there and how many troops are needed to achieve them.

The conflicting messages are drawing increasing ire from U.S. commanders in Afghanistan and frustrating military leaders, who’re trying to figure out how to demonstrate that they’re making progress in the 12-18 months that the administration has given them.

Adding to the frustration, according to officials in Kabul and Washington, are White House and Pentagon directives made over the last six weeks that Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, not submit his request for as many as 45,000 additional troops because the administration isn’t ready for it. . .

In Kabul, some members of McChrystal’s staff said they don’t understand why Obama called Afghanistan a “war of necessity” but still hasn’t given them the resources they need to turn things around quickly.

Three officers at the Pentagon and in Kabul told McClatchy that the McChrystal they know would resign before he’d stand behind a faltering policy that he thought would endanger his forces or the strategy.

“Yes, he’ll be a good soldier, but he will only go so far,” a senior official in Kabul said. “He’ll hold his ground. He’s not going to bend to political pressure.”

(Via Long War Journal.)

That stuff about Afghanistan was a campaign promise. He probably never intended to keep it.

POSTSCRIPT: Remember that Gen. McKiernan, the previous commander in Afghanistan, requested more troops months ago. He was subsequently fired. The reason given was Gen. McChrystal was the best man for the job.

UPDATE: Rich Lowry: “It’s hard to imagine a starker demonstration of bad faith on an important issue of national security.”

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