The Magnificent Ditherer: Obama on Afghanistan

Rick Moran
This is how a community organizer "leads:"

Christi Parsons and James Oliphant of the LA Times:

At a White House meeting aimed at tempering increasingly politicized debate over the war in Afghanistan, President Obama told congressional leaders Tuesday that he does not plan to dramatically reduce the American troop level or switch to a strictly counter-terrorism mission.Asking for patience until he completes an assessment of the situation over the next few weeks, the president urged lawmakers to keep their minds open to a nuanced range of options.

Obama did not indicate to the bipartisan group whether he is leaning toward or against a significant troop escalation. Instead, he suggested he is looking at the middle range of the spectrum, somewhere between a major increase in forces and a large drawdown.

"The president reiterated that we need this debate to be honest and dispense with the straw man argument that this is about either doubling down or leaving Afghanistan," one senior administration official said after the meeting ended.

Still, the 90-minute session demonstrated the growing pressures on the president, who has to contend with many fellow Democrats hesitant to increase American troop levels and Republicans eager to boost the war effort. Several people in attendance said some Republicans openly embraced the recent analysis of Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the U.S. and NATO commander in the Afghanistan effort, who has recommended sending as many as 40,000 additional troops.

Wishy washy leaders always split the difference. It's a way to avoid making a decision while offending no one and satisfying nobody. And it is apparent that the president has already rejected the best advice of his commanding general on the ground in Afghanistan and, if there is a troop increase, it will be for show only, and not materially affect the security situation.

This is exactly the kind of "decision making" one would expect from a community organizer. I'm surprised they didn't build a campfire in the Oval Office and Obama had everyone hold hands and sing "Kumbaya."

There are times when building consensus is the pre-eminent task of a president. There are times when a president must sit back and allow his advisors to go at it until he chooses the right time to move in and settle a dispute. There are even times when it is best that a president does nothing.

This is not one of those times.

If ever a situation cried out for crisp, decisive leadership by a commander in chief, this is it. We are not getting that. We are not getting anything close. We are between a rock and a hard place in Afghanistan, the commanding general has asked for help, the country is unsure, the Congress is split, his own advisors are wavering - and the president of the United States wants to split the difference to make everyone happy?

Damn him.


This is how a community organizer "leads:"

Christi Parsons and James Oliphant of the LA Times:

At a White House meeting aimed at tempering increasingly politicized debate over the war in Afghanistan, President Obama told congressional leaders Tuesday that he does not plan to dramatically reduce the American troop level or switch to a strictly counter-terrorism mission.

Asking for patience until he completes an assessment of the situation over the next few weeks, the president urged lawmakers to keep their minds open to a nuanced range of options.

Obama did not indicate to the bipartisan group whether he is leaning toward or against a significant troop escalation. Instead, he suggested he is looking at the middle range of the spectrum, somewhere between a major increase in forces and a large drawdown.

"The president reiterated that we need this debate to be honest and dispense with the straw man argument that this is about either doubling down or leaving Afghanistan," one senior administration official said after the meeting ended.

Still, the 90-minute session demonstrated the growing pressures on the president, who has to contend with many fellow Democrats hesitant to increase American troop levels and Republicans eager to boost the war effort. Several people in attendance said some Republicans openly embraced the recent analysis of Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the U.S. and NATO commander in the Afghanistan effort, who has recommended sending as many as 40,000 additional troops.

Wishy washy leaders always split the difference. It's a way to avoid making a decision while offending no one and satisfying nobody. And it is apparent that the president has already rejected the best advice of his commanding general on the ground in Afghanistan and, if there is a troop increase, it will be for show only, and not materially affect the security situation.

This is exactly the kind of "decision making" one would expect from a community organizer. I'm surprised they didn't build a campfire in the Oval Office and Obama had everyone hold hands and sing "Kumbaya."

There are times when building consensus is the pre-eminent task of a president. There are times when a president must sit back and allow his advisors to go at it until he chooses the right time to move in and settle a dispute. There are even times when it is best that a president does nothing.

This is not one of those times.

If ever a situation cried out for crisp, decisive leadership by a commander in chief, this is it. We are not getting that. We are not getting anything close. We are between a rock and a hard place in Afghanistan, the commanding general has asked for help, the country is unsure, the Congress is split, his own advisors are wavering - and the president of the United States wants to split the difference to make everyone happy?

Damn him.