General McChrystal’s request for more troops in Afghanistan originally came in a report he submitted on August 30, 2009. Since then at least 97 American soldiers have died while President Obama tries to decide on a course of action in that war-torn country. One cannot help but wonder if Obama considers this primarily a political decision. In fact, it has even been suggested the president has been waiting to announce his decision until after next Tuesday’s elections. I hope that is not the case.
Mr President, two months you have now delayed making a decision. Two months since your hand-picked general first gave you his frank assessment of the situation in Afghanistan. You obviously valued his opinion or you would not have placed him in that most difficult of command positions. He has asked you for an increase of 40,00 more troops and he has explained why. Yet you have still not made a decision. Perhaps you have taken that time to reflect on the difference between skillful utterance of campaign rhetoric and actually being Commander in Chief. Perhaps you are really struggling with this terribly difficult choice. I hope so – it’s not supposed to be easy.
Mr. President, I suggest you look down at your hands, do you see the blood there? It is the blood of brave soldiers who have died on your watch. Don’t bother washing your hands, the stain will never go away – just ask any other President who has faced the extremely difficult choice of sending troops into harm’s way. I’m sure they will tell you how many times they washed their hands… to no avail. I’m not saying the deaths of those 97 soldiers could have been avoided had you decided on a course of action sooner – it is impossible to say, But I am saying that you can no longer claim to be “mopping up someone else’s mess”. It is now your mess. It is now time for you to understand and embrace what is meant by the phrase, “The buck stops here”.
It is my most fervent prayer that you will make the best possible decision – not the most expedient or the most politically calculated, not the one that might endear you to the most people, or shine the best light on you – but the one that is best – best for our troops, best for their families, best for the people of Afghanistan, best for the people of The United Sates of America, best for the cause of those who hold freedom and liberty dear. But I do know this – decide you must, and no matter what you decide that stain will still be there on your hands, long after you leave office. It comes with the job.