The Obama administration deliberations on Afghanistan get more and more interesting. Now, we’ve been treated to the spectacle of either the White House chief of staff free-lancing, or the secretary of defense being out of the loop. On Sunday, Rahm Emanuel said that it’d be “irresponsible” for Obama to decide on Gen. McChrystal’s troop request before the Afghan election is sorted out. Funnily enough, that’s exactly what John Kerry said too. You’d almost think these guys are coordinating–together with their fellow skeptic on more troops, David Axelrod–to undercut McChrystal. Someone close to Gates then told Kristol that no one told him this line would be aired, and Gates himself now has said the decision can’t wait for the problems of the Afghan government to be resolved. If it seems hard to believe that Emanuel would be out making Afghan policy on the Sunday shows without the sign-off of the president, it’s even harder to believe that Gates would publicly dissent if Obama had already decided to delay his decision. This must be a pretty good window into how Emanuel is working this thing. What are the odds that’s he’s often been the senior White House official quoted anonymously putting McChrystal and his request in the poorest possible light? All this is unseemly to say the least. When Gates said the internal Afghan debate shouldn’t take place in public, the generals stood down, but Emanuel apparently didn’t get the message. And the military is noticing, from the New York Times story today headlined “As the Commander in Chief Deliberates, Frustration Builds Within the Ranks “:
A number of active duty and retired senior officers say there is concern that the president is moving too slowly, is revisiting a war strategy he announced in March and is unduly influenced by political advisers in the Situation Room.
On the Afghan war, it appears to be Gen. Emanuel vs. Gen. McChrystal.