This report suggests that the president is choosing the advice of his real general over that of Joe Biden:
The emerging strategy would largely rebuff proposals to maintain current troop levels and rely on unmanned drone attacks and elite special-operations troops to hunt individual militants, an idea championed by Mr. Biden. It is opposed by Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. commander in Kabul, and other military officials.
The report goes on to say that Obama has already largely rejected Biden “strict-counter terror” approach — in early October. And this nugget should provide fodder to those who consider Biden the purveyor of schlocky advice and harebrained schemes: “One official said Pentagon strategists were asked to draft brief written arguments making the best case for each strategy, but the strategists had difficulties writing out a credible case for the counter-terror approach — prompting members of Mr. Biden’s staff to step in and write the document themselves.” It remains unclear then why we have not had an announcement.
Obama might simply be peeved that Gen. McChrystal and other military figures went public, and now is stubbornly delaying the process so as to avoid the appearance of being pressured into the decision. Such a consideration would be entirely small-minded and irresponsible. But it fits with the administration’s current state of peevishness toward Obama’s critics.
Another possibility is that the Obami are still trying to do this on the cheap. The report explains:
One scenario under consideration, according to an official familiar with the deliberations, calls for deploying 10,000 to 20,000 U.S. reinforcements primarily to ramp up the training of the Afghan security forces. But Gen. McChrystal’s request for 40,000 troops also remains on the table. . . The outstanding question is how large an increase, and how those forces will be used.
The excuse for chiseling on troops, as Rahm Emanuel recently raced to the cameras to explain, may be pinned on the problematic Afghan elections and concerns about the government’s fraud and corruption. But how that translates into a decision to give, say, 20,000 troops instead of 40,000, remains murky. If there is just a little fraud, do they split the difference at 30,000? It is more than a little incoherent if that is the consideration.
And finally, it might just be that Obama isn’t very good at decision-making and is waylaid by dumb suggestions from unqualified advisers, paralyzed by domestic political concerns and queasy about crossing his netroot fans. If so, that would be troubling indeed and represent further evidence that a law professor and legislator doesn’t necessarily possess the skills — let alone the judgment — to operate successfully as commander in chief.