Here's a sharp take on Obama's strange decision to hold off the troop decision until after Afghanistan's runoff election. A Marine Lt Col serving in Afghanistan writes:
We have here a conundrum: sorting out the clear and fair winner of an election, according to the law, is of course the proper thing to do. However, we also need to recognize the practical consequences and understand what is probably going to happen in the interim. In my view, the runoff is going to put the brakes temporarily on strategic progress. The loss of time and momentum will, we hope, be worth the tradeoff if the process and the result is seen as putting a lid on an open question. In another country, the stability of institutions would be enough to carry the people through the period of uncertainty; here, it don't work that way. Not yet.
Also, nothing happens quickly in Afghanistan. Nor should we expect it to. Honestly, could we squat down and shit out a do-over election on any level above the local, in a matter of weeks? I don't think so. These folks can't either. I've seen one news report that hoped for a run-off "before winter sets in." Ha! Forget it. Talk about a "winter of discontent..."
The end result is that we've got a problem. Our proper and correct insistence on a clear and fair process will have an unintended, perverse (hopefully short-term) effect on the stability and security of the people for whom we are seeking the clear and fair results. That calls for leadership and unwavering firmness. As for the latter, I believe that every man on the ground here is ready to keep at it. If you are too, make your voice heard. A lot is at stake.
You can sense the frustration. An elite cadre of professionals is on the ground in Afghanistan, all of whom believe this Afghanistan business is winnable, if they're properly resourced. Now their Commander-in-Chief is dropping lame excuses on the one demographic that knows exactly what "delaying until after the runoff election" means. My Lt Col friend is courteous and diplomatic about Obama's dangerous dawdling, but realistically, Marines shouldn't have to be planning contingency actions for emergencies brought on by disastrous wartime leadership.