Over the last month our nation has focused a great deal of attention on Gen. McChrystal's substantial troop request for our mission in Afghanistan. This is the sort of matter which we should be talking about, because the debate between a counter-insurgency versus counter-terrorism approach, which is at the heart of this decision, is sure to set the tone for policies and missions well beyond the Afghan borders.
But as important as the debate is, Secretary Gates and field commanders are reminding us that there comes a point where the lack of action makes the decision for us. This troop request comes with a reasonable window of opportunity attached. The president's continued inaction on this front and his failure to come to a conclusion on a long-term strategy for our mission in Afghanistan creates uncertainty for our troops on the ground and puts into question our resolve in the ongoing war against international terrorists and those who aid and abet them.
However, another key component of our approach to combating terrorism and terrorists is also lingering without a conclusive plan and course of action -- the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and the handling of the remaining detainees. While the troop level debate has drawn all recent attention, this policy decision is also one with tremendous impact.
As you will recall, on Jan 22, 2009, President Obama signed executive orders regarding Guantanamo Bay, interrogation techniques and detention policies. One of the executive orders required that Gitmo be closed within a year. However, as the months passed, it has become obvious to all, including the administration, that such a timetable was unfeasibly aggressive. In fact, to date even some of the most basic aspects of closing the base remain undecided.
Whether the facility is closed by January 2010 or at a later date is not the only subject for discussion here. Rather, this quandary serves as yet another example of this administration's inability to set and execute effective strategies when it comes to our fight against terrorism. With a backlog of detainees waiting for trial and no clear plan on where to house them once the facility itself is closed, it is clear just how vital it was for the administration to come up with a comprehensive plan before pronouncing the closure of the facility.
Obvious as this it, it seems to have escaped the Obama administration, not just back in January, but even now, late in October.
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