President Barack Obama defended his decision to declare what officials have repeatedly emphasized is a virtually meaningless “drawdown” date of July 2011, saying it sends an important message to Afghanistan that the war won’t last forever.
At the same time, Obama insisted that “as Commander in Chief, obviously, I reserve the option to do what I think is going to be best,” adding that he was open to considering yet another new strategy if (or more likely when) the current one is seen to be untenable. He has suggested the next new strategy could come in December 2010, though previous plans that had a “wait a year” caveat didn’t survive nearly so long.
President Obama took office in January, with the military operating under a “new” strategy declared by President Bush in September 2008. Obama announced a replacement strategy in March, and fired Gen. McKiernan in May when that strategy proved a failure.
McKiernan was replaced by General Stanley McChrystal, who announced that he was working on a new strategy, which has culminated in the latest escalation. Just over a week after its announcement, it seems the president is already looking toward the day when this strategy has to be replaced with another new one.