CBS News is reporting that President Obama has decided to send nearly 40,000 additional combat troops to Afghanistan, honoring the majority of Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s request for that country. The administration still says that troops aren’t the only answer and Afghan Pres. Hamid Karzai bears a lot of responsibility for cleaning up corruption in his country.
Giving his general what he says he needs is the right course of action for President Obama (if only he’d done it a tad more expeditiously, but that’s beside the point). It would be irresponsible to do nothing at all or even to draw down troops, and the distancing from Biden’s counterterrorism strategy is in my opinion (and others) the more prudent way to go. The buildup will be gradual, leaving some to think it will be too slow of a trickle to make much of a difference:
The first combat troops would not arrive until early next year and it would be the end of 2010 before they were all there. That makes this Afghanistan surge very different from the Iraq surge, in which 30,000 troops descended on Baghdad and the surrounding area in just five months.
Fred Kagan of the American Enterprise Institute says a slow motion surge will produce slow motion results. “If they’re going to be sort of trickled in very slowly over the course of a year than it’s unlikely to have a very decisive impact in the course of 2010,” he said.
I’m willing to give the strategy the benefit of the doubt for the time being. Let’s hope it works.
That’s assuming, of course, that this is what the Obama administration plans on doing. The CBS article now contains this major caveat:
Editor’s note, 9:57 p.m. EDT: The White House has issued the following response to this story, attributed to White House National Security Advisor James Jones:
“Reports that President Obama has made a decision about Afghanistan are absolutely false. He has not received final options for his consideration, he has not reviewed those options with his national security team, and he has not made any decisions about resources. Any reports to the contrary are completely untrue and come from uninformed sources.”
Hmmm… Kinda makes you wonder, doesn’t it? It could be the administration was already getting flak over the report from its liberal supporters and was forced to make a retraction of sorts. We shall see.
Update: Looks like CBS was fed some bad info or was a bit hasty. Wouldn’t be the first time. Obama’s national security advisor Jim Jones is dismissing the reports as premature. That’s what we get for trusting in a “real” news organization, I guess.