The Associated Press is reporting that President Obama “does not plan to accept any of the Afghanistan war options presented by his national security team, pushing instead for revisions to clarify how and when U.S. troops would turn over responsibility to the Afghan government.” It has been obvious for some time that Obama has no intention of fighting to win in Afghanistan, as he promised during the presidential campaign. A battle plan that includes provisions for how and when the U.S. can extricate itself from the field is a blueprint for defeat, not victory.
The pretext for Obama’s decision to return to the drawing board is a report from newly appointed ambassador to Afghanistan, Karl Eikenberry, who has expressed misgivings about sending in more troops while there are still so many questions about the leadership of Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Karzai is, in essence, the mayor of Kabul. The success of our troops is not contingent on Karzai’s leadership. The Afghan leadership that matters is that of the local leaders in areas where we are combatting the insurgency. But what matters most is our determination to protect civilians in these areas. Obama, it seems, lacks that determination.
If it were true, however, that Karzai poses the obstacle to success that Eikenberry perceives, Obama should decide not to send in any more troops and should seriously considering bringing home the troops who are in Afghanistan now. But, according to AP, this is not what the president has in mind. Instead, he reportedly is leaning towards adding 30,000 or more U.S. forces. Half would fight and the other half would training and hold ground. And, as noted, there would be some sort of provision to “clarify” when the U.S. would bug out.
So let’s get this straight: Karzai is too pathetic to justify sending in the 40,000 troops Obama’s hand-picked commander wants, but sufficiently able to justify sending in 30,000.
As weak war leaders go, Karzai takes a back-seat to President Obama.
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