Obama's Long Road to Afghan Strategy

Prez was relentless in analyzing every angle
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 6, 2009 10:26 AM CST
Obama's Long Road to Afghan Strategy
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates sits with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mike Mullen, and Gen. David Petraeus.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

(Newser) – Amid cries of "dithering" and the silent finality of Arlington's rows of white tombstones, President Obama calmly, analytically, and exhaustively reviewed all options in Afghanistan before finally announcing to his team on Nov. 29 that he would send in 30,000 more troops. The New York Times retraces the president's steps in a lengthy retelling. Highlights:

  • “I don’t want to be going to Walter Reed for another eight years," Obama told advisers, the human toll of his decision weighing heavily on him.
  • Tensions, both public and behind the scenes, erupted between the military and an administration determined not to be as deferential as its predecessor.
  • Obama favored sending a substantial troop force, but soaring deficits pushed him to trim gen. Stanley McChrystal's 40,000 to 30,000.
  • As the debate raged, Gordon M Goldstein's Lessons in Disaster, about Vietnam, was required reading in the West Wing.
  • After months of agonizing, as Obama flew to West Point on Tuesday, "He was,” said one adviser, “totally at peace.”
(Read more Afghanistan stories.)

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