(photo: getty images)
“There is a split”, according to President Barack Obama, among his closest advisers on the war in Afghanistan. Evident after today’s meetings, divisions in his own party over whether to send in thousands more U.S. troops is complicating his efforts to adopt a war policy he can sell to a public grown weary of the 8-year-old conflict. Support for the war has fallen drastically among Americans, with just more than half now saying the conflict is not worth the fight. With top military commanders and congressional Republicans pushing for a troop increase, Obama pressed key members of the national security team Wednesday for their views during an intense, three-hour session in a packed White House Situation Room.
The talks revealed the fault lines within the administration, with military commanders solidly behind the request for additional troops and other key officials divided. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and special Afghan and Pakistan envoy Richard Holbrooke appeared to be leaning toward supporting a troop increase. However, White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and Gen. James Jones who is currently the national security adviser, appeared to be less supportive.
In addition, Vice President Joe Biden, who also was present during the meeting, has been reluctant to support a troop increase. Biden made it clear that he was favoring a strategy that directly targets al-Qaida fighters who are believed to be hiding in Pakistan. The meeting, the second of at least five Obama has planned as he reviews his Afghanistan strategy, comes after a critical assessment of the war effort from Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who was put in charge of the war earlier this year. McChrystal declared that the U.S. would fail to meet its objectives if the administration did not significantly increase American forces .
White House officials say it may take weeks more before the president decides whether to overhaul the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan or send more troops. As Obama deliberates, key Democrats in Congress have begun voicing concern about the U.S.-led effort in Afghanistan, questioning whether a further commitment of blood and treasure is wise or necessary. The most vocal support for continuing or even expanding the conflict comes from Republicans. What do you think? We presented the facts, you make the conclusion.