Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Is Obama trying to force a unity government in Afghanistan?

On Sunday night, I noted that in his Sunday talk show blitz Obama seemed to offer a new rationale -- or a new emphasis in that rationale, at least -- for why he ordered fresh troops to Afghanistan in March:
I did order 21,000 additional troops there to make sure that we could secure the election, because I thought that was important. That was before the review was completed. I also said after the election I want to do another review (my emphasis).
Is Obama hesitating at the brink of escalation, holding back General McChrystal's report and request for additional troops, because the Afghan election was such a balls-up? Note that Obama not only tied his March decision to securing the election but implied that the subsequent review would be focused in large part on the election results.

Could the pause be an act of brinkmanship against Karzai? Will there be a sequence in which an Afghan unity government is announced, and then the administration announces a troop increase? Or is Obama simply preparing to cut bait?

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