Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Third Or Fourth Thoughts About Afghanistan

I still think someone may have leaked Gen. Stanley McCrystal's Afghanistan report with a wink, even a nudge, from the White House. If you focus on the need the report evinces for more troops, you may well think the leaker was a hawk. But if instead you focus on McChrystal's pessimism about our long-term prospects, then the leak nicely bolsters President Obama in agonized reappraisal mode. The New York Times today:

The sweeping [administration] reassessment has been prompted by deteriorating conditions on the ground, the messy and still unsettled outcome of the Afghan elections and a dire report by Mr. Obama’s new commander, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal. Aides said the president wanted to examine whether the strategy he unveiled in March was still the best approach and whether it could work with the extra combat forces General McChrystal wants.

In looking at other options, aides said, Mr. Obama might just be testing assumptions — and assuring liberals in his own party that he was not rushing into a further expansion of the war — before ultimately agreeing to the anticipated troop request from General McChrystal. But the review suggests the president is having second thoughts about how deeply to engage in an intractable eight-year conflict that is not going well.

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