Thursday, October 29, 2009

Reading reports that Obama is conducting a province by province review of Afghanistan, it seems pretty clear that he doesn't want to put additional troops into Afghanistan and is trying to buy time while he scrounges around for a reason to reject McChrystal's request for more troops.

Ordinarily, conducting a province by province analysis is something that is done once one has bought into the overall plan, sort of a 'yes, I'll send more troops, but let's first review how many are needed'. After all, there's no reason to conduct a province by province review of how many troops are needed if you've already decided to not send any more troops, right?

Ah, but something's missing... Obama saying "yes, I'll send more troops, but let's first review how many are needed". Doing so would have assured our allies and our troops of Obama's commitment to defeating the Taliban and keeping Afghanistan from once again becoming a haven for Al Qaeda. And if Obama was committed to backing McChrystal, there would be no reason for Obama to not make such a statement.

But he hasn't... because Obama is stalling for time. He believes that making his intentions known is going to hurt him politically. But unlike those who believe Obama is going to send troops but is waiting because he fears angry Democratic voters will take it out on Democratic candidates in next week's elections, I believe the exact opposite: that Obama is either going to not send any additional troops or so few troops that it amounts to a repudiation of his hand-picked commander and Obama fears retribution from independent voters who will turn some relatively close contests into outright routs.