AFGHANISTAN…. On the eve of his national address at West Point, President Obama issued an order to the Pentagon to send additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan. The president has spent much of the day discussing his decision with foreign leaders, after communicating his instructions to the brass on Sunday afternoon.
A lot of the relevant details have not yet been released, and one assumes we’ll know a great deal more about the future of the U.S. policy after the president’s remarks tomorrow.
Slate‘s Fred Kaplan ran a good piece today, articulating “mixed feelings” that I can relate to.
So here’s what it comes down to: This option might be a good idea if it worked, but the chances of its working are slim (though not zero); all the other options seem to be bad ideas, but they might cost less money and get fewer American soldiers killed (though not necessarily).
Which road is less unappetizing? I don’t know. That’s why I’m ambivalent.
My guess is that President Obama held so many meetings with his national-security advisers on this topic — nine, plus a 10th on Sunday night to get their orders and talking points straight — because he wanted to break through his own ambivalences; because he needed to come up with a reason (not just a rationalization) for doing whatever it is that he’s decided to do, some assurance that it really does make sense, that it has a chance of working, so he can defend it to Congress, the nation, and the world with conviction. Let’s hope he found something. A columnist can be ambivalent; a president can’t be.