It's Time to Decide

Following an interview British Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, last week, the New York Times, of all papers, displayed a headline reading “Britain Resolves, US Wavers”. For Americans to look to a European country for determination, then things in Washington must becoming unhinged.

Earlier this summer, President Obama called Afghanistan a war of necessity. Since then, the commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal (the general personally selected by the President to take charge of this war), has requested at least 40,000 additional troops was needed for a surge in order for the NATO mission in that country to succeed. Of course, as the commander-in-chief, Mr. Obama is not bound by the recommendations of his generals. However, he is duty bound to make a decision.

When Gen. McChrystal made the recommendation two months ago, he stated that the United States on had about twelve months to stabilize the situation in country and then win the war. Two of those twelve short months have now passed and the President of the United States has yet to make a decision. While President Obama has said to our soldiers, “I will never rush the solemn decision of sending you into harm’s way”, there is a difference between deliberation and, as Vice President Cheney has said, dithering.

The President’s indecision is another sign of his weakness. All the while we are waiting for a decision, the Taliban continues to terrorize Afghanistan and its people. On Wednesday, for example, a Taliban cell breached the United Nations compound in Kabul, while dressed as Afghan police officers, and killed six of the UN staff. The Taliban, like Al-Qaeda, don’t carry out attacks at random. They pick their targets with the intent of controlling events.

As Senator John McCain has said, “The President of the United States needs to make this decision and soon. Our allies are nervous and our military leadership is becoming frustrated.” And, as Her Majesty’s Foreign Secretary has indicated, our closest ally, the United Kingdom, is ready to take action and participate in a surge. I’m sure that our English friends just don’t want to be hung out to dry by the inaction of the Obama Administration.

Also, the morale of our soldiers and Marines is always an important factor in any military campaign. Indecision from the top does not help morale. The troops need to know that they have the support of the commander-in-chief. The lack of a defined military strategy from the White House doesn’t shout out support for our men and women in uniform.

A recent ABC News/Washington Post poll showed that 63% of American voters do not believe that Mr. Obama has a clear plan for Afghanistan. The President’s continued indecision does nothing to dissuade this notion. This is very unfortunate because, as I said previously, President Obama, at least at one point, believed that this was a war of necessity.

As the surge in Iraq has shown, decisive action can make a substantial positive difference. This is in spite of the violence this week, which is still relatively rare when compared to pre-surge levels. Just like what is currently happening in Afghanistan, the dithering prior to the surge shows what can happen without decisive action.

For the sake of success in a war of necessity, the President should follow the recommendation of his hand picked commander. Gen. McChrystal - supported by the hero of the Iraq war, General David Petraeus – knows the prescription for victory in Afghanistan. It’s now up to Mr. Obama to let them win it.

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