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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Finally a Decision on Afghanistan, sort of

McClatchy  reports Obama met with his national security team on Monday night and has decided to commit 34,000 troops to Afghanistan.  Of course, Obama is not one to be rushed on such matters so he will wait a week to make the announcement:

Obama is expected to announce his long-awaited decision on Dec. 1, followed by meetings on Capitol Hill aimed at winning congressional support amid opposition by some Democrats who are worried about the strain on the U.S. Treasury and whether Afghanistan has become a quagmire, the officials said.
The U.S. officials all spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss the issue publicly and because, one official said, the White House is incensed by leaks on its Afghanistan policy that didn't originate in the White House.
Is it me, or is that last portion quoted the strangest comment on leaks, well this week anyway.  How many articles on important issues and policy from this administration have not a single named source, there seems to be a leak epidemic.

The leaker continues to report that General McChrystal could arrive in  Washington as early as Sunday to help roll out the plan as well as appear before congressional committees toward the end of the week.   After months of dithering on McChrystal's request, Obama has agreed to the additional troops but has given a 6 month timeframe to demonstrate improvement:
 The administration's plan contains "off-ramps," points starting next June at which Obama could decide to continue the flow of troops, halt the deployments and adopt a more limited strategy or "begin looking very quickly at exiting" the country, depending on political and military progress, one defense official said.

"We have to start showing progress within six months on the political side or military side or that's it," the U.S. defense official said.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if presidential elections came with "off-ramps"?   I would have begun looking at an exit strategy before the inauguration but I suspect Independent voters crossed that point just this past summer.  Obama was wise to follow McChrystal's request but looking after 6 months for a very quick exit seems to suggest the full commitment of the administration is lacking a bit.  Still, Obama seems to have had something of a wake up call upon his return from Asia.  No doubt falling poll numbers and increased criticism were the stick that whipped the administration into motion.  Unfortunately the same stick doesn't appear to matter much on health care.  His priorities are astounding as usual.

H/T: Memeorandum

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