It was over a month ago that I first wrote about Obama and his decision about troop levels in Afghanistan.
Over a month. October 7 to be exact.
Now it’s November 20, Thanksgiving is less than a week away. And we are still waiting on a decision from Obama regarding troops levels in Afghanistan. This is despite the commander on the ground requesting additional troops. And this is the second commander in Afghanistan to do so (the first one “resigned”). What is taking Obama so long?
There has been a lot of talk lately that Obama’s plan was coming soon. Some said it would be 40,000 additional troops, some said it would be half of McChrystal’s recommendation, but at least it would be something.
But today the Washington Post is reporting that a decision will wait until after Thanksgiving, which means troops in Afghanistan will have to continue fighting an admittedly failed strategy for yet another week.
Because this increase in troops is akin to Bush’s troop surge in 2007, let’s examine the timeline of the two decisions (well one decision).
Bush’s Troop Surge – 2007
December 6, 2006 – Iraq Study Group Report suggestions a troop surge
December 11, 2006 – Bush meets with State department advisers (including the Secretary of State) to discuss the Iraq plan
December 11, 2006 – Bush meets with Iraqi experts
December 13, 2006 – Bush meets with Joint Chiefs of Staff
December 14, 2006 – American Enterprise Institute Report suggests a troop surge
January 10, 2007 – Bush announces the troop surge
Total time from the beginning of surge talk to actual decision – 35 Days
Obama’s Troop Surge – 2009
August 30, 2009 – McChrystal’s report on the Afghanistan war (including the need for more troops) is sent to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates
October 2, 2009 – Obama speaks with McChrystal for 25 minutes aboard Air Force One, only the second time he had spoken to the commander since McChrystal assumed the position
November 9, 2009 – CBS News reports Obama plans to send 40,000 additional troops to Afghanistan…but still no official announcement
November 15, 2009 – Obama gets irritated with a reporter when she asks about the hold up on the Afghanistan decision
November 20, 2009 – The Washington Post announces Obama will wait until after Thanksgiving to make his decision
Total time from the beginning of surge talk to actual decision – Who knows, but it’s been 89 days, and will at least be 96 days
So why was it that Bush was able to get a report about the troop levels in Iraq and within 35 days make a decision, but Obama has taken 96 days. And in reality it’s been longer than 96 days, the old commander in Afghanistan, David McKiernan, called for 55,000 troops back in February, and the Pentagon recommended an additional 25,000 in December of 2008.
I understand that Obama wants to think through this decision and be sure that he’s making the right choice, but there is a time limit. Remember, this is a war, and wars call for snappy on your feet thinking. Unfortunately Obama doesn’t seem to possess that trait.