Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Obama decision next week

Oh, what a coincidence; we had Bob Ainsworth saying, in his own somewhat incoherrent almost incohesive way, to MPs on the Defence Committee that Mr Obama's humming and hawing on the number of troops he is going to send to Afghanistan is making it difficult to win support for the campaign, and then we had Obama declaring within hours that he would be making an announcement within days. First of all, the relevant part of Bob's rather incohesive almost incorrent speech: "“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 - and all of those things have mitigated against our ability to show progress. And to put that on the other side of the scales when we are suffering the kind of losses that we are."

A wee bit difficult to follow but in there somewhere is the necessary exophoric reference and Bob was giving Barack a wee prod and, lo and behold, there was Barack saying to all and sundry that he will make his decision next week on the number of troops to send to Afghanistan and that he intends to “finish the job” that began back in 2001. Of course, if Washington does get to hear about Bob's speech the most likely reaction is going to be, "Bob, who"? Yes, while the British Defence Secretary can play to the gallery and jump on the "send more troops" bandwagon, it is in Washington that the decision will be made.

Therefore, let's forget Bob's rather incoherrent and almost incohesive speech and forecast what Obama's decision will entail next week. Well, it might not mean the 40,000 extra troops that General McChrystal has been asking for but it is going to be close to that number with most educated guesses hovering between 30,000 and 34,000. Oh, and yes Bob, you will be happy to know that a few Brits will be joining them. However, we might all sleep easily as the White House decision will be about more than simply the number of troops with officials saying that the announcement will include an outline of an exit strategy and don't worry Bob, I am sure, "Uncle Sam" will tell us all before he finally decides to cut and run.

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