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Updated on October 27, 2009

the Chairman's advise...

There is no doubt that President Obama is, as accused by former Vice President Dick Cheney, "Dithering"; and that the president himself cannot reach a decision on the increased troops in Afghanistan, until probably there is a clear winner from the presidential runoff election there. (...and "Dithering" is too strong a word; there is no need for it. Apologies to Mr. Cheney).

From one perspective, both men seem to be right, as the president has the obligation to make a decision that will be deemed as far reaching, in responding to Gen. McChrystal's request, and also in order not to offend his own political base at home; yet, time is a-going, and therefore, there is no way that he can hesitate any longer than it is necessary, to make one.

The situation will be confusing, even when you have the best political and military advise at your disposal, as the president has; but there is an ongoing war that must be fought, willy nilly, by the United States and its allies, composed of NATO members; and he (Obama) must now be between "the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea", so to speak.

Then comes a "fresh" statement by the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator John Kerry, saying that the general's proposed demand to send at least 40000 additional U.S. combat troops to the Afghan war "reaches too far, too fast", among other things. His (Chairman's) report is based on his own observations from his most recent visit to the war zone; and that must also be taken into serious consideration.

Yet, that report, however pertinent, seems to look more into the future, that the "assurance that the Afghan forces are reliable enough to partner with U.S. troops, assistance from the country's local leaders, and the cooperation and the support of the Afghan people.", falls short of what must be done immediately to reverse the trend of the war; and although, it (statement) does not "throw a spanner in the works", it does not defuse the situation either; no, not very much at all.

The other perspective will be for the president to agree with the general to quickly send added troops to forestall the course of how the war is proceeding, which is the "immediate" assessment of the commanding general of U.S. forces "on the spot" in that country; and then find time to consider the effects of some social, political and economic engagement programs for the Afghan people that will galvanize support for the war; which will be in the "immediate future", counting on his luck for that to ever happen.

As far as when will the Afghan forces be "reliable enough to partner with U.S. troops" is concerned, the question is inconsequential. They are still being trained; and that the training is bound to take some ample length of time.

Nevertheless, it is the urgency of the matter that his opponents are talking about, that the Taliban and Al Qaeda will not wait to unleash their venomous arsenal on the U.S. and allied troops and rout them, instead of the other way around. Arsenal, like suicide bombings, road-side bombings, random attacks and ambushes; they do not take too long to prepare; and so, if he continues to "dither", particularly on the suggestions of the "Chairman", the enemy will have the advantage to control events on the ground.

Any way the president looks at the war in Afghanistan, he has to come up with a decision; one that will be showing that he has confidence in the men and women of the military who are staking their lives out to protect and defend the United States; one that will not be a burden on them; one that will not keep them waiting; one that will give them the advantage instead. Their sacrifice is not one to haggle over or bargain with; their lives matter most to the country and to their families.

He must make a strong decision, however tough it may be; if not, his own prestige will be on the line. It will suffer the most, and not that of his critics.


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