Wire: Obama Now 'Skeptical' About More Troops for Afghanistan
Off the Wire:
WASHINGTON, Sept. 20, 2009 -- Newswire services this morning reported that President Barack Obama is warning U.S. commanders that he’s now “skeptical” about whether more troops will make a difference in Afghanistan.
Newswire services have reported in recent days that the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan has drawn up a detailed request for additional troops but has not yet sent it to Washington.
In several of his five Sunday talk show interviews, Obama made clear that he’s far from convinced about the need for a massive infusion of forces and won’t be rushed on the decision, even while his current Afghan strategy appears to be faltering, The Politico D.C. politics blog said.
"We’re going to test whatever resources we have against our strategy, which is, if by sending young men and women into harm’s way, we are defeating al Qaeda–and that can be shown to a skeptical audience . . . then we will do what’s required to keep the American people safe," Obama said on ABC’s 'This Week with George Stephanopoulos.'
Obama didn't comment on how this affected his campaign promise to do whatever it would take to get Osama bin Laden.
Obama had made a focus on the war in Afghanistan a central tenet of his foreign policy when he ran for president -- often holding up the decision to invade Afghanistan, home to the 9/11 plotters, as the right move compared to President George W. Bush’s decision to invade Iraq.Obama’s comments came as resistance to more troops is increasing on Capitol Hill.
And earlier this year, Obama announced a new Afghan strategy and approved sending 21,000 more troops to the eight-year-long war, in part to provide security for the recent national elections. That would bring the total to 68,000 U.S. troops by year’s end.
But now the U.S. commander there, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, is preparing to ask for thousands of more troops, right at a moment when U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan are hitting a peak and polls show a majority of Americans no longer support the war. Also, Obama is facing pressure inside his own party to bring the troops out of Afghanistan.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said last week that she supports putting time limits on the U.S. military commitment to Afghanistan. “I do not believe we can build a democratic state in Afghanistan. I believe it will remain a tribal entity,” she said.
Others, including Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) have called on Obama to set a timeline for getting out of Afghanistan as Democrats did with Bush on Iraq.
(Report from newswire sources.)
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