Monday, September 21, 2009

McChrystal: Give Us More Troops Or We Lose in a Year

From the Washington Post comes some tough love about the "good war" in Afghanistan:

The top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan warns in an urgent, confidential assessment of the war that he needs more forces within the next year and bluntly states that without them, the eight-year conflict "will likely result in failure," according to a copy of the 66-page document obtained by The Washington Post.

President Obama argued during the campaign that we should leave Iraq and send more troops to Afghanistan, the war he thought we should have been fighting. As president, Barack Obama has continued backing our efforts with the Afghans, much to the chagrin of the Left and the applause of the Right. But Obama isn't know for sticking his neck out for a cause (well, unless it's killing babies before or after birth). As Ed Morrissey notes, it leaves Teh One in an untenable situation.
The left wing of his party wants to retreat from both Afghanistan and Iraq, and this report gives them the bright line in the sand they need. The GOP have been very supportive on Afghanistan, with a few notable exceptions (George Will being the most prominent). The center bought Obama as something other than a typical liberal shrinking violet on American power based on his campaign pledges to fight and win in Afghanistan. A retreat might lose the GOP, which he never had except on this issue, and win back his left wing, but it will absolutely undermine his credibility with the center and further erode his political standing.

Morrissey argues that Obama will probably continue to do little more than give lip service to the war in Afghanistan, hoping that somehow, the situation will just fix itself. I doubt this approach will satisfy either end of his support: the Left will begin screaming about body bags and counts and the Right will argue about the futility of half-assedly fighting a war. And don't even bother with the center, many of whom want us to win without the commitment needed. This isn't even discussing the costs of escalating the war at a time when Democrats are calling the credit cards trying to get increased spending limits for goodies we can't afford and a sizable portion of us don't want.

In short, Obama has the worst of worlds here. If he were smart, he would hope McChrystal can be the new General Petraeus, figuring out how to solve the Afghan problem and settling things down within a few months. But Obama's never shown any ambition for such gambling, and the leftwing nuts leading his party are unlikely to support doing much more than we are already doing. Could Afghanistan be Obama's Waterloo?