Afghan Rift? It's Just 'Smoke and Puffery'

McCain, others inflate controversy so Obama looks weak: Klein
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 8, 2009 12:45 PM CDT
A US Army delegation with Gen. Stanley McChrystal arrives at the German base in Kunduz to tour the site where villagers reportedly died in a US airstrike, Sept. 5, 2009.   (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)
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(Newser) – There’s been much consternation recently about the supposed break between the White House and Stanley McChrystal over strategy in Afghanistan. But it’s really all “smoke and puffery,” a political ruse perpetrated by John McCain and some neocon compatriots, writes Joe Klein in Time. The furor has centered over McChrystal’s statement that a counterterrorism strategy would be “shortsighted.” But Obama has already told congressional leaders essentially the same thing.

The neocons are portraying the military’s “all-in” option of sending 40,000 more troops as the only outcome generals could countenance. In reality, McChrystal offered Obama three options, with 40,000 at the high-end and 10,000 at the low. Obama will almost certainly take the low or middle recommendation. Forgotten in all this is the rest of McChrystal’s London speech, which was a wonderfully honest assessment of the challenges in Afghanistan. “When I am asked what approach we should take,” the general said, “I say humility.”