WASHINGTON -- The economy is stuck on "meltdown." The Cabinet still has vacancies. The ruling political party on Capitol Hill is obsessed with pork, and the mainstream media are fixated on Ottawa's Obama-mania. When nothing else seems to work, dial 911 at the Pentagon and call for those who get things done: soldiers, sailors, airmen, guardsmen and Marines. And just to be different, send them on a stealth surge.
That's what happened Tuesday, when Mr. Obama decided that "urgent security needs" require the deployment of a Marine Expeditionary Brigade and an Army Stryker Brigade to Afghanistan. Rather than making the announcement in a televised address to the nation, as his predecessor did with the surge in Iraq, this commander in chief had his press secretary hand out a piece of paper. No Oval Office. No questions from the press. Just a sheet of paper.
This deployment -- about 8,000 additional Marines, 4,000 more soldiers and 5,000 "support personnel" -- does not come as a surprise. During the presidential campaign, Mr. Obama made it clear that he saw Afghanistan as the "central front" of what he called "the war on terror." He also has said repeatedly that he wants increased U.S. combat power to take on the Taliban and al-Qaida. The surprise is in the timing and the way he has decided to do it.
Last week, the administration announced a full-blown, 60-day, interagency, multinational, quadraphonic, star-studded, strategic review of "every aspect of our Afghanistan policy." Our European allies were informed that Afghanistan is at the "top of the agenda" for the NATO summit in March. On Sunday, Afghan President Hamid Karzai announced that he, too, would be participating in the strategic review. And then Tuesday at 5:30 p.m., too late for much besides a headline on the evening news, the one-page deployment order, which has troops from Camp Lejeune, N.C., to Fort Lewis, Wash. -- and countless points in between -- packing their kits for the Hindu Kush. So much for having a strategy before committing what's needed to implement it.
The deployment announcement apparently didn't impress our "allies' in Pakistan. White House "special envoy" Richard Holbrooke has been in Islamabad and Kabul -- ostensibly on a "fact-finding mission." His plane was barely off the ground before the government in Islamabad announced that offensive military operations against the Taliban will cease in the Malakand region of northwestern Pakistan and that henceforth, the area will be governed in accord with Shariah, or Islamic law. So much for persuading Pakistan -- through which we send more than 80 percent of our supplies -- to crack down on radical Islamic terror.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.
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