It's been some three weeks since General Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan has sent his commander-in-chief, President Obama, a recommendation for additional resources. McChrystal's request was unambiguous and to the point - as he suggested that - without more troops, the mission will surely fail.
The problem is, even the Obama administration is having trouble defining the mission.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the Pentagon is telling McChrystal to hold on while his request is being studied.
That apparently translates into, "hang on general while we decide what we really want you to do."
McChrystal's plan, it's been reported, is based on the mission he's been given. To stamp out the insurgency. But the White House is apparently reconsidering that strategy.
It's no secret that Vice President Biden favors disengaging from combating the Taliban and concentrating solely on al Qaeda. The thinking is this: Osama bin Laden and the others responsible for 9/11 are probably now in Pakistan. Keeping them out of Afghanistan is the job of the NATO troops. Ferreting them out that of the Pakistani military.
If the U.S. and NATO troops make boxing in al Qaeda job one, the losses, both to the Afghan population and to the troops, should be minimized. And the job wouldn't necessarily necessitate the troop increase the general is requesting.
I for one disfavor remaining in Afghanistan - unless it's for the original purpose of tracking down and destroying or bringing to justice those who attacked the United States in 2001. The Biden proposal seems to ensure that we get back on track and finish what we started, not what it's morphed into. Hopefully his argument prevails.