Nearly three months after Gen. Stanley McChrystal submitted his analysis of the Afghanistan situation and a request for more troops, President Obama has now reportedly rejected all of the options submitted by his national security team and pushed for revising how and when America would hand over power to the Afghan government.
I fully understand and respect the need to consider decisions of magnitude, particularly those that will put more American soldiers in harm’s way. However, the President’s laborious process that now seems to start over from scratch is beginning to move away from acting responsibly deliberate to incoherently indecisive. McChrystal gave his recommendations to Obama back in August. Now November, the President has yet to reject McChrystal’s request, accept it outright, or modify it in any way that resembles a strategy going forward.
This is not an academic question. Troops are currently on the ground right now, being fired at right now, while the Taliban consolidates its power right now. For a President who chastised the Bush administration for putting Afghanistan on the back burner, I find it striking that the President apparently has no problem once in office of relegating the conflict below his efforts for health care reform, and will now delay a decision further until after returning from his trip to Asia.
I desperately want to give the President the benefit of the doubt on military matters. Politicizing national security is one of the tactics I found most disgusting over the last eight years. But America elected Obama to make hard decisions, and the current lack of any kind of direction undoubtedly has a negative impact on the morale of our troops. If his options are really so terrible that they must all be rejected, then Obama should get rid of his national security team. If, on the other hand, Obama just can’t make up his mind, then it’s a monumental failure of leadership.
We are past the point of prudently and intellectually weighing the options. American soldiers in Afghanistan deserve some sort of decision from their Commander-in-Chief. It’s what he was elected for in the first place.