Between the failed election, the record violence and an impatient military, President Barack Obama is under more pressure than ever to make a move on Afghanistan. Yet not only is he not making any decision on the further escalation of the war, he won’t even speculate on when he might make that decision.
Insisting that he’s “not interested in just being in Afghanistan for the sake of being in Afghanistan or saving face,” Obama insists that the decision can wait, yet it was less than a year ago that the president last committed to a massive escalation and he isn’t given any real indication he’s considering any other strategy, suggesting the delay is more about politics than strategy.
Specifically, Congressional politics. Several top Congressmen in Obama’s own party are expressing concern about the administration’s strategy, or lack thereof, and pushing for alternatives to keep the war going without throwing massive amounts of additional troops into the combat zone. Yet that criticism has been somewhat stifled by Obama’s non-commital stance, giving him the option of choosing a more convenient time to announce his intentions.
Gen. Stanley McChrystal is seeking 40,000 additional troops, above and beyond the 21,000 additional troops Obama has already committed to the war. McChrystal has likened himself to a mechanic, and says Obama, as the driver of the war, must decide “how much longer he intends to drive it.” Obama will likely approve the additional troops in the end, but even if he doesn’t, it seems his intention is to drive this war for as long as he can.