After months of contemplating a request by Gen. Stanley McChrystal for more troops for Afghanistan, President Obama is expected to make an announcement in a prime time address to the nation on Tuesday.
It is anticipated he will take a Solomon-like approach - giving McChrystal more troops - but not as many as he requested. This is sure to set him up for criticism from both those who think that McChrystal's request for 40,000 more troops be granted and from those who want fewer troops or a pullout altogether.
The president met with a team of advisers at the White House yesterday to listen to last-minute arguments about a what to do. Noticeably absent - Vice President Joe Biden - who believes there should be fewer U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Biden believes the mission has changed to providing support for the Afghan government by putting down the insurgency. He has argued that fewer troops along the Afghan-Pakistan border - focused entirely on working with Pakistani troops to put the squeeze on al Qaeda - should be the mission. He has argued that the U.S. troops should leave the Taliban in Afghanistan alone - unless they are of immediate danger to them or are involved in plotting against the United States or its allies.
The White House says that if additional troops are ordered to Afghanistan, there will be, at the same time, a timetable established for the withdrawal of all troops to pressure the Afghan government to prepare for a takeover of security. But there are those who point to Iraq as the latest example of how much easier it is to get into a war than to get out. Some also argue that sending more troops in sends the wrong signal - further delaying the Afghan government's taking control of the country.