Monday, October 5, 2009

Mr. President, you are no Abe Lincoln

"I expect to maintain this contest until successful, or till I die, or am conquered. Or my term expires, or Congress or the country forsakes me.”– Abraham Lincoln, 1862

Oh to hear those words from our President today.

While our troops--the sons and daughters, husbands and wives, fathers and mothers of our fellow Americans--are dying in Afhanistan, our general in charge of the region, General McChrystal, waits for the President to consider his August 30th request for 40,000 additional troops. This request is the result of his on the ground analysis of what it would take to win in Afghanistan, the "...war of necessity" as Obama called it on August 17th in a speech to the Veteran's of Foreign Wars.

Meanwhile Vice President Biden is arguing for a downsizing of the number of troops on the ground in Afghanistan and a focus on killing selected terrorists. Can this be a serious suggestion? Did we not try something similar in Iraq under Bush II that cost Rumsfeld his job? And what about listening to our experts, especially the ones we hire ourselves, just as President Obama handpicked General McChrystal in May? Never mind leadership--our expectation that our President would actually exhibit some.

Just a month ago we were told health care was such a crisis we had to solve it NOW. A few months before that the economy was in such crisis we had to push through the largest economic stimulus bill in our history as a nation IMMEDIATELY. But when it comes to our national security and the lives of the young men and women in our country, this President has more important things to do and feels no urgency to respond in a week or a month, in fact, he will surely require at least three more weeks to make a decision on General McChrystal's August 30th request. Once again we seem to be asking him to make decisions as he said "above his pay grade."

Thankfully General McChrystal is a warrior who is interested in victory. When asked in London if he agreed with Vice President Biden's recommended strategy General McChrystal was forthright.

"The short answer is no," McChrystal said. "You have to navigate from where you are, not where you wish to be. A strategy that does not leave Afghanistan in a stable position is probably a shortsighted strategy."

Lincoln was a hands on Commander-in-Chief. He frequently visited the front to lend support to the troops. He consulted with his generals extensively. He sat up nights waiting for word, tortured with the weight of his office. He communicated with the nation on the progress of the war. And he said things like, "I expect to maintain this contest until successful..."

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