During his Sunday blitz of the news shows, President Obama was very clear that he was still evaluating the next steps for Afghanistan, saying:
"I don’t want to put the resource question before the strategy question," Obama told King. "Because there is a natural inclination to say, if I get more, then I can do more. But right now, the question is, the first question is, are we doing the right thing? Are we pursuing the right strategy?"
Apparently General McChrystal and the Petraeus cabal aren’t willing to wait for their Commander in Chief to set the strategy. Prior to the President’s interviews, McChrystal’s people were already telling journalists that they were “impatient with Obama” as Nancy Youssef reported. This “Power Play,” as I mentioned last night included a veiled threat that McChrystal would resign if he didn’t get his way.
And sure enough, just hours after the Commander in Chief was on the airwaves, somehow McChrystal’s classified report hit the Washington Post … compliments of Bob Woodward no less.
Wow, what a coincidence!
Remember that members of Congress were only:
allowed to read copies of it in secure offices on Capitol Hill, but the lawmakers were not allowed to take notes.
The Pentagon Sunday night described the report as “a classified pre-decisional document” yet apparently assisted the McChrystal’s pressure play by “releas[ing] a declassified version of Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal’s assessment of the war in Afghanistan” to the WaPo and it can be read here.
McChrystal’s conclusion is described by Woodward:
Toward the end of his report, McChrystal revisits his central theme: "Failure to provide adequate resources also risks a longer conflict, greater casualties, higher overall costs, and ultimately, a critical loss of political support. Any of these risks, in turn, are likely to result in mission failure."
In other words, give me more troops or it will be your fault, Obama, that we lose the war.
The Woodward article is coupled with an analysis by Rajiv Chandrasekaran and Karen DeYoung describing the attempt by the military to “push Obama into a corner;”
with public statements such as those by Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that the situation in Afghanistan is "serious and deteriorating" and "probably needs more forces." One official questioned whether McChrystal had already gone beyond his writ with public statements describing the protection of the Afghan population as more important than killing Taliban fighters…
But Obama’s deliberative pace — he has held only one meeting of his top national security advisers to discuss McChrystal’s report so far — is a source of growing consternation within the military. "Either accept the assessment or correct it, or let’s have a discussion," one Pentagon official said. "Will you read it and tell us what you think?" Within the military, this official said, "there is a frustration. A significant frustration. A serious frustration."
And the pressure campaign was quickly picked up by the Wall Street Journal, quoting McChrystal as saying:
"The insurgency cannot defeat us militarily; but we can defeat ourselves," Gen. McChrystal wrote.
The New York Times follows suit:
“Failure to gain the initiative and reverse insurgent momentum in the near term (next 12 months) — while Afghan security capacity matures — risks an outcome where defeating the insurgency is no longer possible,” General McChrystal writes.
As Steve Hynd noted last night:
Here’s the thing – I don’t for a second believe McChrystal is acting alone, any more than General Odierno in Iraq was acting alone when he kicked up his heels earlier this year about US troops staying beyond the time alloted by the SOFA agreement. Both are too closely orbiting the career fortunes of their mutual commander. We may well be looking at the first moves in the Petraeus 2012 campaign as well as at the usual military/civilian rivalry.
We can hope that President Obama gets frustrated enough himself with this military claque centered around Petraeus to remind them who is Commander in Chief. Or maybe we should hope that Rahm decides the political threat is getting out of hand?