21 September 2009

Two Views on Zero; Woodward Is Still Connected

Washington Post -- McChrystal: More Forces or 'Mission Failure'
The first big leak from the military during the Obama era went public hours after the president accused his commanders of putting the “resource question ahead of the strategy question.”

Someone in the chain of command slipped Bob Woodward the 66-page assessment of the situation in Afghanistan by commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal that suggests without a substantial increase in U.S. forces, the war against Taliban insurgents will be irrevocably lost. The report has been on President Obama’s desk for two weeks, but the White House has been sitting on the bombshell as Democrats have complained more bitterly about the president’s escalation of the war.

McChrystal’s message to Obama seems to be that if the president wants a new strategy of nation building in Afghanistan he has to be willing to deliver the resources necessary.

“The assessment offers an unsparing critique of the failings of the Afghan government, contending that official corruption is as much of a threat as the insurgency to the mission of the International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF, as the U.S.-led NATO coalition is widely known.

‘The weakness of state institutions, malign actions of power-brokers, widespread corruption and abuse of power by various officials, and ISAF's own errors, have given Afghans little reason to support their government,’ McChrystal says.”

Wall Street Journal -- Obama Questions Plan to Add Forces in Afghanistan

The Obama team is smarting from the poor reception of their Sunday stunt of having the president appear on five talk shows and still must tape the entire hour with former funnyman David Letterman in New York today.

While Obama said nothing new about health care in his round robin of Sunday chat shows, he did make news about ACORN, racial attitudes, and most of all, Afghanistan. As Examiner colleague Susan Ferrechio points out, five interviews means five headlines. The president, who will need forbearance from liberal members of his party in order to be able to declare symbolic victories on health and global warming, was looking to placate the anti-war base that made him the Democratic nominee.

But by pooh-poohing the rather desperate-sounding request for more troops that he had received from the man he put in charge in Afghanistan, Obama instead opened himself to criticism from the Left (unsatisfied with the status quo) and the Right (anxious that Obama will wimp out).

Just five months after announcing a bold and more ambitious approach to Afghanistan with a lamentation of his predecessor’s inattention to the Hindu Kush, the president seems to be having second thoughts.

‘I don't want to put the resource question before the strategy question,’ Mr. Obama told CNN's ‘State of the Union.’ ‘There is a natural inclination to say, 'If I get more, then I can do more.' But right now, the question is—the first question is—are we doing the right thing? Are we pursuing the right strategy?’

Mr. Obama's comments suggested that the White House could be reassessing its strategy in Afghanistan, ahead of an expected request for more troops from Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the U.S. and NATO commander there. Mr. Obama, who has approved more troops for Afghanistan while ordering a drawdown in Iraq, has already agreed to send an additional 21,000 troops to Afghanistan, bringing the total number of U.S. forces there to 68,000 by year's end.”

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