Obama close to decision on Afghan war

Expectations are mounting in Washington that President Barack Obama may be moving towards a commitment to send more troops to Afghanistan, following an exhaustive review of US war strategy.

But the exact timing of a decision, the make-up and size of any US reinforcements, and their reconfigured mission remain unclear, pending a conclusion to a high-level policy review.

Obama has said he may choose a new plan, which would involve a ruling on war commander General Stanley McChrystal’s request for thousands more counter-insurgency troops, before the Afghan run-off election on November 7.

“I think it is entirely possible that we have a strategy formulated before a run-off is determined, we may not announce it,” he told NBC News Wednesday.

The US president has already made clear that his rejigged strategy towards Afghanistan — and Pakistan, where Al-Qaeda leaders are thought to be hiding — will not see any troops pulled from the fight.

So, it would be a surprise if Obama, faced with a warning from his hand-picked commander McChrystal that the war could be lost without more troops, decided to freeze the US garrison at the 68,000 it will soon reach.

“The president will make a decision in the next few weeks, in the coming weeks,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Thursday.

“I don’t know when that decision will be — it could be before the run off, it might be after the run off.”

The president is seen as having few appealing choices in Afghanistan.

They range from pouring large numbers of counter-insurgency troops into the war — McChrystal has asked for 40,000 troops or more — to eschewing troop increases completely and focusing mostly on tackling Al-Qaeda.

One option gaining currency in Congress forsees an acceleration of the NATO effort to train the Afghan national army — with perhaps around 15,000 extra troops.

Some observers meanwhile have suggested a moderate injection of soldiers to boost counter-insurgency forces could be allied to a civilian effort to train more Afghan police. War critics want to see no more deployments.

In his NBC interview, Obama also hinted at a need to act soon to satisfy military deployment procedures to ensure any extra manpower arrives on the battlefield by the Afghan spring.

“We are not going to drag it out, because there is the sense that the sooner we get a sound approach in place and personnel in place, the better off we are going to be.”

Obama’s in-depth strategy review, played out in regular meetings among his war council with top security aides in the White House Situation Room, was complicated by the fraud-tainted Afghan presidential election.

But President Hamid Karzai’s decision to accept a run-off vote on November 7 with his top challenger Abdullah Abdullah, may remove one of the biggest barriers to making a final evaluation.

While warning that any election in war-torn Afghanistan, as winter descends, is a tough undertaking, officials are hoping that the presumed winner Karzai will emerge with his tarnished legitimacy enhanced.

Officials have said Washington must have a credible partner in Kabul for a counter-insurgency or development effort to work — and piled enormous pressure on Karzai to agree to the run-off.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is arguing that the Afghan election alone will not ease US anxiety over the evolving government in Kabul, following months of corruption claims against Karzai.

“I think we need to be realistic that the issues of corruption and governance that we are trying to work with the Afghan government on are not going to be solved simply by an outcome of the presidential election.

“This is going to be a work in progress, an evolutionary effort, and we need to be realistic about that,” Gates said in Japan on Wednesday.

Senator John Kerry, who helped broker the deal that led to the run-off vote, warned after meeting Obama on Wednesday that it was “common sense” to wait until the November 7 election before troop deployment decisions.

Obama meanwhile told NBC that Afghan strategy “is not just dependent on military forces.

“It’s also dependent on how well we’re doing with our civilian development efforts. How well we’re doing in stemming corruption. So, this is part of a comprehensive strategy, it always has been.”

While squaring the military circle, Obama also has a political dilemma.

A new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll on Tuesday found 52 percent of Americans fear that Afghanistan represents a new Vietnam for US troops.


  1. woody188

    You don’t know how funny I found it to see you quoting Rambo III. :)

    I really don’t want the Taliban to prevail mostly due to the troubles it will mean for Afghan women. Moderate Afghani’s need to start sticking up for themselves. But that’s part of the problem with “spreading Democracy” by the barrel of a gun. Democracy must come from within because the weak aren’t up to keeping it for themselves.

    I don’t understand how we could be there for going on 8 years and still have only enough security forces trained to protect Kabul. We give our guys 6-9 weeks basic. Why doesn’t that work in other countries?

    Do we blame the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, or do we blame the contractors training them who know once they are trained they are out of a job?

  2. Carl Nemo

    We’ve evidently been comandeered by out of control, war thirsty thugs regardless of their “silver-tongued” promises for an exit from Iraq with us now seemingly on to a long, hard fought, success in Afghanistan…NOT!

    From Alexander the Great in ancient times down to the Russians in our era were not able to conquer the peoples from this region of the world.
    I believe some lines from the movie “Rambo III” with Sylvester Stallone playing John Rambo pretty much sums up our chances of success:

    Both men on horseback gazing at the distant beautiful snow-capped mountains of the region…
    Mousa: “This is Afghanistan… Alexander the Great try to conquer this country… then Genghis Khan, then the British. Now Russia. But Afghan people fight hard, they never be defeated. Ancient enemy make prayer about these people… you wish to hear?”
    Rambo: “Um-hum.”
    Mousa: “Very good. It says, ‘May God deliver us from the venom of the Cobra, teeth of the tiger, and the vengeance of the Afghan.’ Understand what this means?”
    Rambo: “That you guys don’t take any shit?”
    Mousa: “Yes… something like this.”


    I believe those lines say it all as to our chances of success. The Afghans have their god, Allah on their side and that’s all they need to keep them moving on to ultimate victory while we simply are serving the god of mammon; ie., Halliburton, Bechtel, and a host of camp-following, war-profiteering freebooters along with their greedy, corrupt Congressional sponsors. Even Karzai and his two brothers are crooks. One of his brothers is a crooked businessman and the other up to his armpits in the opium trade. No one discusses this fact and that Karzai is nothing but a plug-in module that will best serve our interests in that region.

    Hopefully the Taliban will prevail in Afghanistan and reestablish some order for these people regardless of their draconian policies of enforcing religious doctrine etc. The sooner they flush these running dogs for the MIC and oil interests; ie., the U.S. to their borders and out as the Russians in 1989 then they can get back to simply herding goats, sheep, growing poppies and enjoying the beauty of the mountains of the Hindu Kush and beyond thanking Allah for their good fortune.

    Carl Nemo **==

  3. Carl Nemo

    Hi Woody,

    I’m familiar with Afghanistan from the 60’s and 70’s. At least in those days tourists could visit the country and we were welcome to set up listening posts to monitor Russia’s emerging nuclear testing capabilities via microbarograph (mini-seismograph) monitoring etc. At that time such monitoring technology and ops were “TOP SECRET”. Eventually nuclear detonations finally moved to the realm of spy satellites as well as real time monitoring of ruskie launch facilities via the same.

    Afghanistan is a very poor country, always has, always will be. Recently the Chinese have hammered out an agreement to develop a massive copper deposit found in the region. All the West ever wanted from Afghanistan in the past was to use the country as a listening post and in modern times as an easement to transport both oil and natural gas from the Caspian basin north of Afghanistan down to through Pakistan to the Arabian Sea and eastward to India.

    Dick Cheney on behalf of Halliburton and Ken Lay (deceased) of Enron had hammered out an easement deal with the Taliban prior to Cheney’s ascendancy to the VP job, but things began to unravel concerning the deal. The Talibani wanted the pipeline consortium to spend money on improving infrastructure; ie., roads, schools, electrical transmission and a host of other things, but the consortium reneged saying basically they could carpet them with gold from the deal or for them to suffer carpet-bombing until the 12th of forever if they didn’t.


    “However, from all records, relationships became strained. The Taliban had demanded that the U.S. should also reconstruct Afghanistan’s infrastructure and that the pipeline be open for local consumption. Instead, the U.S. wanted a closed pipeline pumping gas for export only and was not interested in helping to rebuild the country.

    In turn, the U.S. threatened the Taliban during the negotiations. The directive of “we’ll either carpet you in gold or carpet you in bombs” was bantered about in the press to underscore the emerging willfulness of the U.S.” …extract from second link content



    The rest is history. Bushco invaded Afghanistan, then Iraq with the sole purpose of an “oil resource” theft on a national scale. We’re still there at the behest and control of “big oil” and of course the MIC gets the derivative benefit of selling our government an endless supply of “killtoys” at exhorbitanat prices not including tax dollars that are outright stolen at the hands of criminally disposed no bid, minimally monitored government contractors.

    Rest assured the inhabitants of this region will not give up and they will surely send our forces home in defeat…period!

    Between Goldman Sachs having a direct lien and control over the U.S. Treasury via the the Fed~Treasury axis courtesy of Ben Bernanke and Timothy Geithner along with these engineered wars for the sole benefit of “big oil” and the MIC; our nation’s financial system is going to be bled white on the sands of time, soon simply to become a footnote; ie., a failed experiment in freedom and justice for all.

    We’ve in essence been hijacked by both financial and MIC domestic terrorists in high places. Don’t believe for a minute the propaganda that we are over there to capture OBL, nation-building, poppy eradication and other such feelgood nonsense that’s simply spouted for public consumption. : |

    Carl Nemo **==

  4. bryan mcclellan

    Charley Wilson wanted one million to build schools and educate nearly the only Afghan men and woman that were left when the soviets pulled out, the young. After pissing away much much more than this paltry sum to bedevil the Russians his brethren told him to go fish. Our Gov in action, eh Carl?

  5. Carl Nemo

    Which proves Congressional facilitators are only interested in shaking us down for billions to feed the MIC’s ever-hungry maw, but when it comes to simple infrastructure reconstruction post military action…forget it!

    I wish to hell someone in Congress was genuinely interested in rebuilding America’s infrastructure post 50 years of creeping neglect; ie., roads, bridges, schools, power transmission etc.

    There are many American cities that look like a post warzone situation too, East of the Mississippi.

    Carl Nemo **==

  6. RichardKanePA

    General Stanley McChystal did not just ask for 40,000 more troops. He asked that they get embedded with the Afghan solders, eating and sleeping together, like occurred in Iraq with the Sunni rebel’s who got disgusted with al-Zarqawi mayhem, and suddenly sided with the US. Al Qaeda had a bigger price on their heads than they had on the Americans.

    However, it seems to me that since Afghans changed sides frequently between the Northern Alliance and the Taliban, any embedded Afghan solders could win amnesty from themselves by attacking the Americans they were embedded with, especially if al Qaeda had a knife at one of their relatives’ throats.

    General McChystal also said US soldiers need put a lot more effort into protecting civilians.

    During the Vietnam protests, protesters used to hear the inconsistent statements by traumatized soldiers and cheer the parts of their speeches the antiwar audience wanted to here. General McChystal’s attempts to be honest, can be subjected to a lot of interpretation


  7. Carl Nemo

    “However, it seems to me that since Afghans changed sides frequently between the Northern Alliance and the Taliban,” …extract from post

    McChrystal wants his troops to get “imbedded” with the locals. Yep, real smart, then when you least expect it; these “side changing” tribal types decide to slit your throat in the night. The more b.s. that comes out of the general’s mouth tells me he’s some type of modern era “kumbaya” warrior. No thanks.

    There has to be some limit as to how far down our leaders want our fine men and women in the armed forces to both scrape and suffer in order to win the hearts and minds of those who could give a rats butt less about he U.S. and its interests in those regions and all for a pipeline easement!?

    Carl Nemo **==

  8. woody188

    Rumor out of Iraq is that General McChrystal is definitely not kumbaya. I’ve heard some call him the new “Butcher of Baghdad” for allegedly torturing prisoners.

  9. Carl Nemo

    Hi Woody,

    Here’s the NY Times article concerning his background and links to torture in the Iraqi theater. He should have not been confirmed to command the Afghani operation as far as I’m concerned.


    All it proves to me is that this guy couldn’t even manage a torture/interrogation op without it being blown wide open. This is not an advocacy for torture on my part, but an indictment concerning his personal incompetence! He was also linked to the whitewash concerning Pat Tillman’s combat related death along with other officers. To me these are character flaws that we cannot tolerate at these levels of command…period!

    Now he wants our GI’s to hot bunk with Afghani’s who seem to have confused alliances with their occupiers and even fellow tribal leaders. It sounds FUBAR to me and anyone else with their heads screwed on tight. / : |

    Carl Nemo **==