Obama's hand-picked commander has laid out a strategy for defeating al Qaeda and the Taliban. During the campaign Obama had promised to give the war in Afghanistan the attention and resources necessary to do just that -- in explicit contrast to the Bush administration whom he alleged had diverted the resources and attention of the military from the real threat of al Qaeda and their Taliban allies in Afghanistan.
McChrystal leaves no doubt about what must be done if Obama is to keep his word -- more troops and very soon. The president cannot delay that decision any more -- not for the sake of his health care initiative or anything else. And in any case, as a matter of politics the best thing for Obama and the Democrats is to win the war. Yesterday Obama immodestly compared himself to some of the great presidents of American history. “Maybe you hear what people had to say about Abraham Lincoln, or what they had to say about FDR, or what they had to say about Ronald Reagan when he first came in and was trying to change our approach to government." That answer came in response to a question from George Stephanopoulos about the health care town halls during the August recess. But it wasn't legislative accomplishments that made those men great presidents. It was their decision to commit fully to the major conflicts of the day -- and to win decisively.
Health care reform won't make or break Obama's presidency. The way he conducts the war in Afghanistan will.
Goldfarb also pointed a fact that has mostly gone unnoticed: Obama has already committed thousands more troops to Afghanistan since taking office. "Obama may be trying to appease the left wing of his own party with a very public show of reluctance to add additional forces to the fight, but the administration has already deployed at least 22,000 additional U.S. troops since his inauguration," he wrote.