Skip to comments.Obama 'skeptical' about more troops
Posted on 09/20/2009 10:16:33 AM PDT by jazusamo
President Barack Obama is warning U.S. commanders that hes skeptical about whether more troops will make a difference in Afghanistan, saying hell approve an upcoming request only if the forces fit into a strategy to beat back al-Qaida and protect the United States.
Until I'm satisfied that we've got the right strategy I'm not gonna be sending some young man or woman over there beyond what we already have, Obama said on NBCs Meet the Press. I'm not interested in just being in Afghanistan for the sake of being in Afghanistan or saving face or, in some way you know, sending a message that America is here for the duration.
U.S. generals are preparing to seek as many as tens of thousands additional troops for the increasingly unpopular conflict, but in several of his five Sunday talk show interviews, Obama made clear that hes far from convinced about the need for a massive infusion of troops and wont be rushed on the decision.
Were going to test whatever resources we have against our strategy, which is, if by sending young men and women into harms way, we are defeating al Qaedaand that can be shown to a skeptical audience, namely me, somebody who is always asking hard questions about deploying troops then we will do whats required to keep the American people safe, Obama said on ABCs This Week with George Stephanopoulos.
Obama also said he suspects there is a predisposition among some military planners to think more troops is the answer to almost any problem.
There is a natural inclination to say, If I get more, then I can do more, Obama said on CNNs State of the Union. But right now, the question isthe first question is, are we doing the right thing? Are we pursuing the right strategy?
Were not going to put the cart before the horse and just think by sending more troops were automatically going to make Americans safe, Obama told CBSs Face the Nation.
Obama had made a focus on the war in Afghanistan a central tenet of his foreign policy when he ran for president often holding up the decision to invade Afghanistan, home to the 9/11 plotters, as the right move compared to President George W. Bushs decision to invade Iraq.
And earlier this year, Obama announced a new Afghan strategy and approved sending 21,000 more troops to the eight-year-long war, in part to provide security for the recent national elections. That would bring the total to 68,000 U.S. troops by years end.
But now the U.S. commander there, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, is preparing to ask for thousands of more troops, right at a moment when U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan are hitting a peak and polls show a majority of Americans no longer support the war. Also, Obama is facing pressure inside his own party to bring the troops out of Afghanistan.
Obama denied a CNN report that the White House has told McChrystal to hold off on formally requesting the additional forces. The Pentagon is preparing to give the White House a report assessing U.S. strategy in Afghanistan. Officials have said that report will not contain any requests for troop increases, but such a request is expected to come separately soon thereafter from McChrystal.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) picked up on the CNN report to question whether Obama was purposely stalling a decision on the troop increase. He said Republicans would back the president if he decides to send more troops to the war but McConnell didnt answer whether he believes more troops are needed now, saying that he trusts the judgment of McChrystal and other generals.
We think the time for decision is now. As Senator [John] McCain has pointed out, when you delay a decision like this, you may be arguably endangering the lives of our soldiers, McConnell said on CNN. The sooner you can make that decision, the better.
Obama said during the interviews that he inherited a war and a strategy that had gone awry. In the ABC interview, Obama said that when he took office, U.S. efforts in Afghanistan were no longer intensely focused on Al Qaeda and the Taliban.
When we came in, basically, there had been had been drift in our Afghan strategy. Everybody acknowledges that, Obama said. We lost that focus for a while and you started seeing a classic case of mission creep, where were just there and we start taking on a whole bunch of different missions.
Obama also told CNN that narrowing the focus of U.S. operations in Afghanistan will also improve the chances of tracking down and killing Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.
If we have a overarching strategy that reminds us every day that thats our focus we have a better chance of capturing and killing him and certainly keeping Al Qaida on the run than if we start drifting into a whole bunch of other missions that really aren't related to what is our essential strategic problem and rationale for being there, the president said.
During his Sunday show interviews, Obama sounded so intent on avoiding mission creep that at one point he seemed to rule out any use of American troops in peacekeeping operations that dont have a direct impact on U.S. security.
The only reason I send a single young man or woman in uniform anywhere in the world is because I think its necessary to keep us safe, the president said on CBSs Face the Nation.
If Obama meant to rule out the use of U.S. military personnel to ward off genocide or humanitarian crises, that would be something of a surprise. One of his national security advisers, Samantha Power, is renowned as an advocate of using force to head off massive human rights violations.
The reluctant approach Obama signaled toward the possibility of more troops in Afghanistan sounded broadly consistent with a suggestion his national security adviser, James Jones, made to U.S. commanders during a visit to the country in June. According to the Washington Post, Jones, using a sanitized abbreviation for an expression of surprise, said any request for more troops was likely to cause Obama to experience a Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? moment.
Obama did not elaborate Sunday on the other missions which he believes distracted U.S. personnel. However, even as elections went forward in Afghanistan last month, his administration was stepping back from some of the Bush administrations more ambitious goals for democracy in that country and elsewhere.
In recent months, U.S. military and diplomatic personnel have been more willing to cut deals and make alliances with regional chiefs that some Afghans regard as warlords. There have even been discussions about trying to co-opt elements of the Taliban.
Afghanistan is very much still a tribal area, CIA director Leon Panetta told Voice of America last week. Some of the Taliban are to our discouragement are individuals who are engaging in military actions against the United States Others are those who we think more concerned about trying to establish some stability. So, you dont just have one brand of Taliban.
Obamas comments came as resistance to more troops is also increasing on Capitol Hill.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said last week that she supports putting time limits on the U.S. military commitment to Afghanistan. I do not believe we can build a democratic state in Afghanistan. I believe it will remain a tribal entity, she said.
Others, including Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.) have called on Obama to set a flexible timeline for getting out of Afghanistan much as many Democrats did with Bush on Iraq. Obama didnt answer directly on whether he supported a timeline, but said his strategy contained benchmarks for achievements to assess the progress of the U.S. mission in Afghanistan.
It depends on the GOP. They don’t have to say anything, since it’s Obama’s ‘War’.
The GOP has enough ammo to go after the Dems in 2010, if we make it.
Do you think the RATS in Congress would vote to deny him if he asks for more troops?
Rats fleeing a sinking ship will do many different things.
It depends on the Rat, if it’s a anti-war rat, they might vote against it. The Blue dogs, might have to do something else.
The Big O has the “right” as Commander in Chief to be skeptical, of course. But like LBJ, he has neither the education nor experience nor the will to make his skepticism worth the proverbial bucket of warm spit. His self-importance, like LBJ’s, is going to get a lot of our soldiers and airmen killed.
I have many friends in Afghanistan and Iraq, and more going. I pray for them daily.
Whose side is he on?
That is a reasonable answer. :-)
Can you please provide links these stories? I have not run into anything that is more than chatter.
” We think the time for decision is now.
As Senator [John] McCain has pointed out, when you delay a decision like this, you may be arguably endangering the lives of our soldiers, McConnell said on CNN. “
May be ??? Heeelllooooo
I don’t know one military family who has any confidence in Barry as CinC.
Because of his political dithering and waffling ,
his crap ROEs which handcuff the troops and cost lives,
his suffocation of the intelligence community and
his overwhelming disdain for the military and America.
All during the campaign, Macho Man bragged that he was going to be a better Commander in Chief than GW,
that he was going to “ kill “ Osama bin Laden and in fact, he was going to invade Pockeystan.
The troops would have everything they need to fight the WOT.
And now, he flicks the troops and the war effort away like a he flings a cigarette butt onto the White House lawn.
It’s good that Republicans are starting to emerge from their slumber and challenging Obama’s
laissez-faire attitude toward the war and troop deaths.
I fear what it’s going to take to finally wake up every American .
And more and more are starting to murmur that Obama is undercutting and abandoning our troops in war time ,
Well said and the first thing to be done is change the ROE so our troops can protect themselves.
Prayers for them all that are in harms way.
This wouldn’t be the first surge he was skeptical of. He’s invaribly wrong.
Whatever doesn’t fit the idological template does not exist or did not happen. Simple as that. Dang those pesky facts. Why don’t they just go away?
So now Onada declares himself Napoleon—military strategist extraordinaire. What a guy, what a man, what an idiot.
Like a true liberal he thinks he knows more about the military than the military.
We didn’t have to lose Vietnam.
We lost because of liberals here.
We might still lose Iraq and Afghanistan.
It will be because of liberals here.
I think he thinks that the best way to deal with all of these conflicts is to decrease the power of the US and thus lead others to not resent us. It's all our fault. If only we were ‘fair’ and less rich and took better care of our ‘people of color’ the world would love us and we would all live in perfect socialist harmony.
I agree...For sane people Afghanistan is not another Vietnam but for liberals it is and if they have their way it could in fact turn out the same. They either don’t learn from history or learn too well, probably the latter.
Yes he did and he would, IMO.
The guy can’t even come up with a plan for his healthcare boondoggle. He won’t say what he wants with it cause he can’t commit and risk losing support. Same thing here. He is the undecider.
That’s ok: The troops are skeptical of Obama as well.
The list, ping