DAVID GREGORY: Are you skeptical about more troops? About sending more troops?Well, I didn't see any skepticism when Obama increased our forces in Afghanistan by 21,000 soldiers and marines this year, but better late than never.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, can I just say this? I am— I have to exercise skepticism anytime I send a single young man or woman in uniform into harm's way. Because I'm the one who's answerable to their parents if they don't come home. So I have to ask some very hard questions anytime I send our troops in.
The question that I'm asking right now is to our military, to General McChrystal, to General Petraeus, to all our national security apparatus, is— whether it's troops who are already there, or any troop request in the future, how does this advance America's national security interests? How does it make sure that al Qaeda and its extremist allies cannot attack the United States homeland, our allies, our troops who are based in Europe?
That's the question that I'm constantly asking because that's the primary threat that we went there to deal with. And if— if supporting the Afghan national government, and building capacity for their army, and securing certain provinces advances that strategy, then we'll move forward.
But, if it doesn't, then I'm not interested in just being in Afghanistan for the sake of being in Afghanistan or saving face or, in some way— you know, sending a message that America— is here for— for the duration. I think it's important that we match strategy to resources.
What I'm not also gonna do, though, is put the resource question before the strategy question. Until I'm satisfied that we've got the right strategy I'm not gonna be sending some young man or woman over there- beyond what we already have.
However, questioning the counter-insurgency strategy contained in General McChrystal's report was too much in some (head)quarters, so the full report was leaked to Bob Woodward.* The headline and sub-head:
McChrystal: More Forces or 'Mission Failure'
Top U.S. Commander For Afghan War Calls Next 12 Months Decisive
Nice false dichotomy and the obligatory Chicken Little alarm. PR mission accomplished. Isn't it great that people talk about success and failure when they have no definition of either? And that Woodward will repeat whatever the military tells him uncritically. (To be fair, he and a lot of other reporters do the same with any Administration) What a country!
I'm tempted to prattle on about the supposedly liberal Washington Post, but instead I'll highlight one other case of the military being embedded in the media. Actually, I'll just link to Glenn Greenwald's post on retired military analysts on the NBC Nightly News.
In any case, I encourage you to follow the debate about the potential for even more soldiers and marines to be sent to Afghanistan. And to express your opinions with your Congressional representatives early and often. Don't wait for the moment when all you can do is put up a lawn sign.
* Note that the Administration asked that some parts be redacted, not the military. The story cited below doesn't say when Woodward was given the report (it was delivered to the President in late August), but that he was planning to use it in his upcoming book. But when the report "would have been overtaken by events," Woodward decided it was time to publish. Yeah, right.
UPDATES: Howard Kurtz, the media correspondent for the Washington Post has a story describing the details of the publication of McChrystal's report. Note that Woodward claims that he approached the source recently and asked the source to allow its publication. And he compares this "story" to the Pentagon Papers, which is completely Bizarro. Finally, the WaPo wanted to publish on Sunday morning - the day Obama's interviews were televised - but delayed it one day through the goodness of their collective corporate heart.
More on the retired general story: Bush43's Pentagon chief spokesman, Bryan Whitman, who is still in the job, is implicated in the program. (h/t Scott Horton) The sordid history of that disastrous presidency will continue to leak out month by month. It can get worse.