President Obama to meet with National Security Council at today
After some delay on the issue of a new Afghanistan strategy and the 60 minute segment on Sunday featuring General Stanley McChrystal, President Obama will meet with his National Security Council today. General McChrystal had mentioned on 60 minutes that he had only talked to the Commander in Chief once in 70 days.
The compositon of the council will include:
Vice President Joe Biden
• Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
• Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke
• US Ambassador to Afghanistan Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry (by remote)
• US Ambassador to Pakistan Anne Patterson (by remote)
• Secretary of Defense Roberts Gates
• Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
• General David Petraeus, commander US Central Command
• General Stanley McChrystal, commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan (by remote)
• White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel
• Director of National Intelligence Admiral Dennis Blair
• Director of the CIA Leon Panetta
• US Ambassador to the United Nations Dr. Susan Rice
• National Security Adviser Gen. Jim Jones
• Deputy National Security Adviser Tom Donilon
• White House Assistant to the President on Homeland Security and Counterterrorism John Brennan
• Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communications Denis McDonough
• Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for Iraq and Afghanistan Lt. Gen. Douglas Edward Lute
The discussion is obviously all encompassing. The highlighted portion shows some of the discussion points. Some pundits believe that the only way to succeed in Afghanistan is to go with what General McChrystal requested. This, however, will be a long drawn out process, which could tie down NATO and US troops for as long as a decade.
Vice President Biden is said to prefer the fight from a distance strategy, using drones and precision air strikes against specific Taliban and Al Quaida targets. The problem with that strategy is that it is dejavu, puts civilian targets in danger, and really permits the Taliban free play.
Politically, Obama's far left constituency must play on his mind as well. Afghanistan has come to a crossroads. This is the war President Obama chose to fight and if he goes along with the Commander on the ground, he must convince his constituency that it is a valiant cause. His is not an enviable position on this issue.
How best to focus on dismantling al Qaeda?
Does providing security for the provinces against the Taliban make sense if most al Qaeda are now in Pakistan?
Can the success of the surge in Iraq be replicated in a country of harsher terrain, that is 80,000 square miles larger, not nearly as advanced in terms of government or economy?
Does the Taliban pose an existential threat to the U.S.? If not, need they be defeated?
Does “nation-building” in Afghanistan make sense if it’s not clear that nation can be built?
Will allowing the Taliban to reconstitute itself even further allow al Qaeda more safe havens?
Is Hamid Karzai more albatross than ally?
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