Of Afghanistan, Hell, And Handbaskets

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on September 22, 2009

Via New Ledger colleague Dan McLaughlin–who wickedly says that “someone should ask Eric Shinseki what he thinks of this”–we get a depressing report on the Pentagon’s (read “the Obama Administration’s”) reaction to General McChrystal’s request for more troops:

The Pentagon has told its top commander in Afghanistan to delay submitting his request for additional troops, defense officials say, amid signs that the Obama administration is rethinking its strategy for combating a resurgent Taliban.

A senior Pentagon official says the administration has asked for the reprieve so it can complete a review of the U.S.-led war effort. “We have to make sure we have the right strategy” before looking at additional troop requests, the official said. “Things have changed on the ground fairly considerably.”

Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, recently completed a classified report asking for significant numbers of new American troops. Military officials familiar with the matter say the report lays out several options, including one that seeks roughly 40,000 reinforcements, which would push the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan to more than 100,000 for the first time.

But the commander has been told to delay submitting the troop request to the Pentagon at the direction of Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and other top civilian officials, according to defense officials.

The administration’s call for a further strategic review — which official said could take weeks — comes as military commanders in the field say the campaign is running out of time and U.S. congressional and public support for the war is flagging.

Pray tell: What possible strategy under consideration could demand no further troop buildups in Afghanistan? If there is one, I would like to know about it. If there isn’t, then what on Earth are we doing pretending that a strategy that does not require more troops is under consideration?

I really hope that I am wrong here, but for the first time, I think that it is more likely that we will fail in Afghanistan, than it is that we will succeed. And given that the Obama Administration said that it was committed to getting out of Iraq so that we could devote more resources to winning in Afghanistan, the potentially increased likelihood that we might lose instead is genuinely frightening.

  • http://twitter.com/markparton Mark Parton

    Interesting thoughts. I'm an Australian radio announcer based in Canberra. Speaking to a number of people about this issue tomorrow morning, (Tue your time). Would love to include you in the conversation.

    Let me know if that's possible. I'm in at work at around 11am L.A. time.

    mark661@live.com.au

    Regards from Oz

  • http://twitter.com/markparton Mark Parton

    Interesting thoughts. I'm an Australian radio announcer based in Canberra. Speaking to a number of people about this issue tomorrow morning, (Tue your time). Would love to include you in the conversation.

    Let me know if that's possible. I'm in at work at around 11am L.A. time.

    mark661@live.com.au

    Regards from Oz

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