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Sunday, October 18, 2009

White House Delays Troop Decision in Afghanistan

The White House is now signaling that no troop decision will be made until after the Afghanistan election is resolved.

It would be irresponsible to send more troops to Afghanistan until a legitimate and credible government is in place, the White House and top Democrats said Sunday.

White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel said the most critical issue facing U.S. strategy is whether the Afghans can be an effective partner in destroying Al Qaeda safe havens and bringing stability to the region.

"It would be reckless to make a decision on U.S. troop levels if in fact you haven't done a thorough analysis of whether in fact there's an Afghan partner ready to fill that space that U.S. troops would create and become a true partner in governing," Emanuel said in an interview Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union."

In Iraq, there was never an election widely viewed as fraudulent the way this one was, however that government didn't get legitimacy until after the security situation was resolved. At the end of 2006, the government of Nouri Al Maliki was anything but legitimate. That's because they couldn't protect the citizenry. The Bush administration was, thus, dealing with a similar problem. Had President Bush said that until there was a legitimate government we wouldn't commit to more troops, Al Qaeda would now share Iraq with Iran.

The rub, if you will, is that the government won't be legitimate until there is security. Afghanistan has voted three times in its history and so widespread fraud shouldn't have been all that surprising. If the Karzai government was able to protect the citizens, widespread corruption in the election wouldn't become a problem we'd have to deal with.

This idea of a legitimate government has been used by the current administration as a red herring so that they can delay the decision to send troops. The most significant issue in Afghanistan is security. Security isn't going to happen with the current number of troops. The general is asking for more troops and Obama simply refuses to give him his troops. If you're looking to not make a decision, then Afghanistan will provide you with a plethora of reasons not to do exactly that.

The election certainly complicates the matter. No one should minimize just how explosive that is in an already explosive situation. That said, to wait until that is resolved is to simply vote present on making a decision. Unfortunately, by voting present, all the president really does is keep the status quo for another month or two. Of course, we know the status quo won't work. So, the troops are stuck in a failing strategy with a president looking for any excuse not to make a decision. That the president voted present over 100 times in the Illinois Senate was a point opponents made on occasion. Supporters dismissed this lack of decision making. Yet, it's becoming clear that on all major decisions the President continues to vote present. As an Illinois Senator, he had that option without causing too many problems. As president, it's deadly, and that's playing out in Afghanistan.

1 comment:

B. Johnson said...

Isn't the reason for sending more troops to Afghanistan now because troop levels are dangerously low, soldiers dying unnecessarily because they're outnumbered?