David Blackburn

With friends like these | 25 November 2009

With friends like these | 25 November 2009
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Bob Ainsworth has publicly criticised President Obama’s slothful deliberation on an Afghan troop surge. The Defence Secretary said:

‘We have suffered a lot of losses. We have had a period of hiatus while McChrystal's plan and his requested uplift has been looked at in the detail to which it has been looked at over a period of some months, and we have had the Afghan elections, which have been far from perfect let us say. All of those things have mitigated against our ability to show progress... put that on the other side of the scales when we are suffering the kind of losses that we are.’

I don’t agree with Ainsworth’s analysis: public support for the war has collapsed because the war is considered unwinnable, regardless of whether Obama ever makes up his mind. The British government must be apportioned blame for its role in the mounting disaster, but Ainsworth’s euphemistic references to ‘a period of hiatus’ illustrate that the coalition’s two closest allies are increasingly at war. In this instance the fault is Obama's.

Obama’s procrastination has led indirectly to further casualties in Afghanistan as overstretched troops continue to pursue unrealisable aims – an indication of listless political conviction and leadership. Delay may make victory impossible. In the first major foreign policy test of his presidency, Obama has mused and pontificated his way to failure.