In recent weeks, Republicans have been attacking President Obama for taking too long to settle on a strategy for the war in Afghanistan. The charge has been led by Vice President Cheney, who accused Obama of “dithering” and endangering U.S. troops:
It’s time for President Obama to make good on his promise. The White House must stop dithering while America’s armed forces are in danger.
Make no mistake, signals of indecision out of Washington hurt our allies and embolden our adversaries. Waffling, while our troops on the ground face an emboldened enemy, endangers them and hurts our cause.
Tonight in his prime-time address to the nation, Obama ordered the deployment of 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan and said that the U.S. would begin withdrawing in 18 months. He also pointed out that none of the options put before him were set to occur before 2010, so his review process did not result in any endangerment of U.S. troops — a statement that seemed to be a direct response to criticisms such as Cheney’s:
As your Commander-in-Chief, I owe you a mission that is clearly defined, and worthy of your service. That is why, after the Afghan voting was completed, I insisted on a thorough review of our strategy.
Let me be clear: there has never been an option before me that called for troop deployments before 2010, so there has been no delay or denial of resources necessary for the conduct of the war. Instead, the review has allowed me ask the hard questions, and to explore all of the different options along with my national security team, our military and civilian leadership in Afghanistan, and with our key partners.
Given the stakes involved, I owed the American people — and our troops — no less.