With much of his party largely opposed to expanding military operations in Afghanistan, President Obama could be forced into the awkward political position of turning to congressional Republicans for support if he follows the recommendations of the commanding U.S. general there.
Congressional Democrats have begun promoting a compromise package of additional resources for Afghanistan that would emphasize training for Afghan security forces but deny Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal the additional combat troops he has indicated he needs to regain the initiative against the Taliban insurgency. The emerging Democratic consensus is likely to constrain the president as he considers how best to proceed with an increasingly unpopular war.
On Wednesday, Obama chaired a three-hour discussion on Afghanistan with Cabinet members and senior officials at the White House. The meeting was largely a reassessment of the past eight years of American involvement in the region, with the president repeatedly probing his military and civilian advisers to justify their assumptions, according to one participant. This source said there was a recognition that the decision facing Obama is one of the most critical of his presidency.