Obama does not act impulsively. Before betting his remaining chips on Afghanistan, he will no doubt deliberate carefully. He will consult. He will sift through all the evidence. Yet before hitting the “start over” button on Afghanistan, he would do well to consider the following: Sometimes the essence of leadership is not to render the right decision but to pose the right question.
As difficult as it is to do so at a time when war has become a seemingly perpetual condition, when it comes to Afghanistan, the really urgent need is to recast the debate. Official Washington obsesses over the question: How do we win? Yet perhaps a different question merits presidential consideration: What alternatives other than open-ended war might enable the United States to achieve its limited interests in Afghanistan?
At this pivotal moment in his presidency, if Obama is going to demonstrate his ability to lead, he will direct his subordinates to identify those alternatives. [continued…]
Editor’s Comment — For Obama to pose the right question he would need to have not already given the wrong answer. Having emphatically called this a “war of necessity” makes it incredibly difficult to climb out of the rhetorical hole he has dug himself into, for it there are alternatives there can be no necessity.