Some Conservatives have wondered why President Obama has not rushed 40,000 more American troops into Afghanistan, immediately, in line with General McChrystal's request. To these Conservatives, it's a simple question of Yes or No -- follow the field commander's recommendations or don't. Like everything else, these Conservatives continue to see the entire world in simple colors of black or white.
Perhaps the following article from today's Politico might give even these "Blinder-Wearers" some idea of the complexities involved. I think everyone else will surely begin to understand the strategic problems Obama is dealing with.
From Politico -- October 10, 2009:
VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN IS ON THE COVER OF THE NEWSWEEK CLOSING TONIGHT -- 'AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH TELLER':
From health-care reform to Afghanistan, Joe Biden has bucked Obama--as only a good veep can,' by Holly Bailey and Evan Thomas: 'Joe Biden had a question. During a long Sunday meeting with President Obama and top national-security advisers on Sept. 13, the VP interjected, 'Can I just clarify a factual point? How much will we spend this year on Afghanistan?' Someone provided the figure: $65 billion. 'And how much will we spend on Pakistan?' Another figure was supplied: $2.25 billion. 'Well, by my calculations that's a 30-to-1 ratio in favor of Afghanistan. So I have a question.
Al Qaeda is almost all in Pakistan, and Pakistan has nuclear weapons. And yet for every dollar we're spending in Pakistan, we're spending $30 in Afghanistan. Does that make strategic sense?' The White House Situation Room fell silent. But the questions had their desired effect: those gathered began rethinking their assumptions and began putting more thought into Pakistan as the key theater in the region.
'Some administration officials, led by Biden, appear to hope that American forces can rely more on counterterrorism operations--attacks by Predator drones and small elite units on terrorist hiding places--to hold Afghanistan together and defeat Al Qaeda. But critics call this 'splitting the baby' and say it'll never work. As a senior civilian Pentagon official points out, 'No one has more experience with counterterrorism than McChrystal,' who ran black ops in Iraq and Afghanistan for five years. 'If there was an easier, better way, he'd be pushing for it,' says this official, who would not be quoted discussing internal deliberations.
Opinions within the intelligence community are split, according to current and former operatives. Some back McChrystal's view that the only way to obtain the intelligence necessary to conduct counterterror operations is by a counterinsurgency campaign that protects civilians. Yet a significant minority of intelligence officials, at the CIA and elsewhere, doubt that more troops will make much difference; some think the additional forces could be counterproductive.
'Senior military officials backing McChrystal have not given up hope that Obama will fully support the general, not Biden, and order tens of thousands more troops to Afghanistan. It is impossible to know with certainty where Obama will come out on this; the strategy meetings will go on until at least next week. But the president will have confidence that, whatever he decides, he will have challenged all assumptions and thrashed out all views. He can also be confident that he won't be second-guessed by his vice president. Biden is determined to be a 'team player,' says a close friend who asked for anonymity while commenting on Biden's motivations. 'He wants to help the president. Joe is someone who is probably not going to run again. This is the apex of his career, and there is no separate agenda."
Now, we are beginning to see why Obama is taking his time so that he can "get it right".