Commentary Magazine


Getting to “Yes”

We may be near the end of the dithering. This report explains: “President Barack Obama on Wednesday will consider a new compromise plan for adding troops to Afghanistan that would deploy 30,000 to 35,000 new forces, including as many as 10,000 military trainers, over the next year or more.”

So what are we getting after all the seminars and the sage analysis of Gens. Biden, Emanuel, and Axelrod? Pretty much what Gen. Stanley McChrystal recommended months ago:

The total troops proposed are “at the top end of the bracket in terms of what McChrystal asked for — it may not reach 40,000, but it won’t be far off,” said an official briefed on the hybrid plan. “The overall strategy is going to be — which McChrystal has made a big deal about — getting Afghans up to the right pace. The strategy therefore needs capacity builders, trainers.”

The White House continues to haggle with the military (Make it 37,500!), which suggests that this is a PR battle to cast the president’s final decision as something other than mere acceptance of McChrystal’s recommendation. After all, if Obama simply, albeit belatedly, approved McChrystal’s plan, people might wonder why we’ve wasted all this time. And the Left might realize that all their squawking and foot-stomping got them nowhere.

Some will argue that this angst-ridden and protracted process was beneficial and that we gained something so we could “get it right.” But that’s consultant-speak. In reality, the “process” has served only to make the president look weak and indecisive and to suggest that national-security decisions are held hostage to political considerations. Obama’s dawdling has upset our allies, emboldened our foes, and frustrated our military. On a political level, his delay only infuriated conservatives and embarrassed his own supporters. Most of all, we’ve left troops in the field without the support and strategy they need for a prolonged — unnecessarily so — period of time. And for what? Apparently so Obama could flex his muscles and declare he wasn’t going to be told what to do by his generals.

It has been a shabby performance indeed.