There's a vicious rumor being reported in Washington. It says President Obama was holding off his announcement of new troop movements into Afghanistan not until after Hamid Karzai's election runoff that had been scheduled for November 8, but until after today's closely-watched off-year elections. The basis for that rumor is the idea that Obama would not want to depress his own base, discourage "peace" voters from voting in Virginia, New Jersey, and New York's 23rd congressional district.
I reject that rumor. I do not believe this President, or any President, would so callously disregard the lives of the soldiers, sailors, and airmen whom he has sent into harm's way. My point is something else entirely. Such rumors would not have a chance to circulate, to get "legs" if you will, if President Obama were not so publicly agonizing over his decision to send in more troops.
Many of my fellow conservatives are rhetorically flailing President Obama for not immediately and uncritically endorsing Gen. Stanley McChrystal's call for 40,000 or even 60,000 more troops. I don't share that criticism. Yes, it's true Gen. McChrystal was President Obama's own choice to command. But Gen. McClellan was Lincoln's own choice. And Gen. MacArthur was Truman's own choice. The President should never act as a mere rubber stamp for his senior military advisers, no matter how able and devoted they are.
My complaint with President Obama is his long and all-too-obvious indecision. We have just passed our bloodiest month in Afghanistan. The President went out to Dover Air Force Base to meet the returning caskets of some of our brave fallen warriors. This is entirely right and proper. But he owes those honored dead more than his respect and his sympathy. He owes them firm, decisive leadership.
Impatient columnists have argued that Obama should have ordered a "surge" in Afghanistan back in August, when Gen. McChrystal first recommended it. Perhaps. Or, he might have used some of his European "face time" with the leaders of our NATO allies to gain stronger commitments from them to shoulder a larger share of the burden of defending freedom from the terrorists. After all, many of the British and European allies are in as great danger as we are from jihadists.