Obama's Minions Are Ingrates
The Bush administration did leave a plan for Afghanistan.
by Stephen F. Hayes
11/02/2009, Volume 015, Issue 07
Says Eliot Cohen, "My challenge to the Obama administration is: Why don't you declassify both documents--the Bush administration's Afghanistan review and your own."
Not surprisingly, Republicans were among the most outspoken supporters of Obama's strategy announced in March. And while Democrats on Capitol Hill did not, for the most part, voice their opposition in public, they registered their concerns in private conversations with White House officials.] [ Why then, as Obama again nears a decision on the way forward in Afghanistan, would Rahm Emanuel pick a fight with Republicans--the very people who gave the president his most ardent backing the last time he announced a new strategy?
Could it be that Emanuel hopes to foreclose one of Obama's options--the one Emanuel opposes--before the president makes his decision? ]
On October 18, White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel appeared on the Sunday morning talk shows and, in the process of answering questions about Barack Obama's strategy on Afghanistan, accused the Bush administration of failing to ask the most basic questions about that country and our war there.
The president is asking the questions that have never been asked on the civilian side, the political side, the military side, and the strategic side. What is the impact on the region? What can the Afghan government do or not do? Where are we on the police training? Who would be better doing the police training? Could that be something the Europeans do? Should we take the military side? Those are the questions that have not been asked. And before you commit troops . . . before you make that decision, there's a set of questions that have to have answers that have never been asked. And it's clear after eight years of war, that's basically starting from the beginning, and those questions never got asked.
Then, after former vice president Dick Cheney used a speech on October 22 to accuse the Obama administration of "dithering" on Afghanistan, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs responded by claiming that the Bush administration did not care about U.S. troops...............................
Bush administration officials were furious.
"The idea that we just sat on our f--ing asses--it's really a slander," says one senior Bush administration official. "It's just not credible that we didn't take this seriously."
In fact, the Bush administration did ask those questions. From mid-September to mid-November 2008, a National Security Council team, under the direction of General Doug Lute, conducted an exhaustive review of Afghanistan policy. The interagency group included high-ranking officials from the State Department, the National Security Council, the CIA, the office of the director of national intelligence, the office of the vice president, the Pentagon, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Its objective was to assess U.S. -policy on Afghanistan, integrating a simultaneous military review being conducted by CENTCOM, so as to present President Bush with a series of recommendations on how best to turn around the deteriorating situation there. The Lute group met often--sometimes twice daily--in a secure conference room in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. (The group used the room so frequently that other national security working groups that had been meeting there were required to find other space including, occasionally, the White House Situation Room.)........................
Gibbs that the Bush administration ignored requests for more troops. It's nonsense, they say. McKiernan wanted more troops--he asked for three additional brigades in the summer of 2008--but he understood that he could have them only when they became available. "McKiernan was making requests down the line," says a Pentagon official, "and late in 2008 we did have the ability to commit more forces. So we did." Indeed, Bush sent nearly 7,000 additional troops to Afghanistan before he left office, including one brigade that had been repurposed from Iraq.
One Bush veteran asks, "If it's true that the Bush administration sat on these troop requests for eight months, is the White House suggesting that the Pentagon was incompetent or negligent or both? That would be a good question to put to the defense secretary--and President Obama is in a position to make him talk."
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