"Their 'Golden Boy' Is Still Crapping his Pants and Now They Worry !"
The Washington Post’s editors are understandably nervous—Obama is wavering, perhaps crumbling before their eyes, on Afghanistan. They note that, not so long ago, he was sounding George W. Bush–like in his determination to prevail. But no more:
So it was a little startling to hear Mr. Obama suggest in several televised interviews on Sunday that he had second thoughts. “We are in the process of working through that strategy,” [he] said on CNN. “The first question is . . . are we pursuing the right strategy?” On NBC he said, “if supporting the Afghan national government and building capacity for their army and securing certain provinces advances that strategy” of defeating al-Qaeda, “then we’ll move forward. But if it doesn’t, then I’m not interested in just being in Afghanistan for the sake of being in Afghanistan.”
The president’s doubts come at a crucial moment. He has just received a report from the commander he appointed, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, saying the United States and its allies are in danger of losing the war if they do not work more effectively to shore up the Afghan government and army and protect the population from insurgents. Gen. McChrystal, along with his seniors in Washington, believe that this counterinsurgency strategy is the only route to success, and that it will require a commitment of substantial additional resources, including thousands more U.S. troops next year.
While Obama “appears to be distancing himself from his commanders”—whom he installed and presented with his mission of ridding Afghanistan of the Taliban—there is little reason, they note, for him to back away from his own analysis offered just months ago that a return of the Taliban would be a disaster for Afghanistan and hugely destabilizing to its neighbor Pakistan.
There is something bizarre about the president’s disassociating himself from his generals and his own stated goals–within a span of just months. He gives the appearance of an errant teenager who one month ago simply had to do X and now can’t bring himself to even defend X. But we can’t say it’s without precedent.
In April, Obama defended missile defense in Europe: