For two months now, the Obama administration has been weighing the heavy decision to send more U.S. troops to help fight and win the war in Afghanistan. Sending American men and women into battle is one of the most difficult and important choices a commander-in-chief can ever make, so it is right that President Obama carefully considers his decision.
But as administration officials have dragged the decision from weeks of studying various options into months, many are accusing the president of "dithering" on the decision. This delay is particularly concerning because, along with General McChrystal's request for increased troop strength in Afghanistan, he also clearly advised that time is of the essence in shifting the momentum. In fact, General McChrystal wrote that failure to do so in one year "risks an outcome where defeating the insurgency is no longer possible."
With only 12 months to implement the new strategy that Obama's general recommended, spending two precious months carefully considering other options may prove dangerously costly. So what is the president waiting for?
Most recently, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that the administration needs to make a decision about the troop increase and not "sit on our hands" waiting for election results. Surely Secretary Gates was referring to the November 7th Afghan presidential runoff. But the election closer to the White House's heart is the one closer to home. With two governors mansions currently held by his own party likely to flip Republican on November 3rd, is it possible that the President is playing politics with his decision, not wanting to further alienate his liberal base before Election Day? Disgraceful? You bet. Possible? In this White House, it could be.