Obama's Afghan troop withdrawal not among options presented by his generals
Yesterday in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Lt. General John Allen, slated to be the new top commander in Afghanistan, contradicted an (anonymous) administration spokesman, and stated under direct questioning that the troop withdrawal program announced by President Obama was not among the options presented to him by his generals.
In other words, President Obama came up with the plan on his own. His top commanders did not present it to him as one of the options they offered for him to choose among.
This makes whatever outcomes take place in Afghanistan the sole responsibility of Obama. It also mean s that either General Allen, who was under oath and has a lifetime of devoted service, is lying, or that an anonymous administration spokesman is lying about whether the generals presented the chosen option to the president. Stephen Hayes presents the facts in the Weekly Standard:
Allen's claim, which came under oath, contradicts the line the White House had been providing reporters over the past week-that Obama simply chose one option among several presented by General David Petraeus. In a conference call last Wednesday, June 22, a reporter asked senior Obama administration officials about those options. "Did General Petraeus specifically endorse this plan, or was it one of the options that General Petraeus gave to the president?"
The senior administration official twice claimed that the Obama decision was within the range of options the military presented to Obama. "In terms of General Petraeus, I think that, consistent with our approach to this, General Petraeus presented the president with a range of options for pursuing this drawdown. There were certainly options that went beyond what the president settled on in terms of the length of time that it would take to recover the surge and the pace that troops would come out - so there were options that would have kept troops in Afghanistan longer at a higher number. That said, the president's decision was fully within the range of options that were presented to him and he has the full support of his national security team."
The official later came back to the question and reiterated his claim. "So to your first question I would certainly - I would certainly characterize it that way. There were a range. Some of those options would not have removed troops as fast as the president chose to do, but the president's decision was fully in the range of options the president considered."
(The full transcript of the exchange is below; the full transcript of the call is at the link.)
Meanwhile, our foes in Afghanistan, the Taliban, have already ramped up the aggressiveness of their attacks, striking the Intercontinental Hotel in the heart of Kabul. They recognize weakeness.