Obama meets with Afghanistan advisors

November 11, 2009 7:27:23 PM PST
On this Veterans Day, President Barack Obama met with his war council. The president and his military advisors may be close to deciding on a new strategy for the war in Afghanistan.

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It appears the president is going to send more troops to Afghanistan, but it also seems likely it will not be the 40,000 Gen. Stanley McChrystal wants.

As it did with the war in Iraq, questions about cost are growing.

At a Veterans Day ceremony in San Francisco's Presidio, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., talked about the cost of war in lives lost, but did not want to talk about other costs.

But two years ago, Pelosi was criticizing the war in Iraq precisely over the money that could have been spent at home.

"And I'm so steamed up about this war and the opportunity costs," she said.

ABC7 political analyst Bruce Cain says those same kinds of criticisms are rising now among progressives in Congress.

"And the question is can you now continue to pursuit an open-ended war in Afghanistan when you have these domestic needs and a huge deficit," Cain said.

Former Pentagon specialist on international security Col. Whitney Hall says the U.S. must find a way to preserve peace in Afghanistan.

"I look at it, can we afford to let that part of Asia and the Middle East fall into chaos, we can't," he said.

But a former CIA Middle East field officer with decades of experience in the region says the U.S. would be better off getting out.

"We're not fighting, obviously, al Qaeda, it's not even there, so I don't know what we're fighting there, I don't think the administration knows, I think there is a political factor in this," Robert Baer said.

A big part of that political factor is that Mr. Obama campaigned on his support for the war in Afghanistan, calling it a war of necessity.

"Well, the politics doesn't enter here, you can't make, this is not a political decision, it shouldn't be, this is a decision on the merits about what is best of the security of this county," Mr. Obama's former campaign manager David Plouffe said.

Cain says political considerations have to be and should be part of president's decision.

"And if there is a cost to his credibility on this he has to figure out if he can sustain that cost and survive and be able to deal with the Congress and make promises in the future," Cain said. "If he doesn't worry about these power considerations, you know, then it'll be disastrous."

The Associated Press is reporting Wednesday night that Mr. Obama does not plan to accept any of the war options presented to his national security team.

The White House will not confirm or deny, but said the president has questions that could, "alter the dynamic of how many troops are sent and how long they would stay."

One of the sticking points is said to be questions about the credibility of the Afghan government.

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