The president on ‘Meet The Press’:
The question that I’m asking right now is to our military, to General McChrystal, to General Petraeus, to all our national security apparatus, is– whether it’s troops who are already there, or any troop request in the future, how does this advance America’s national security interests? How does it make sure that al Qaeda and its extremist allies cannot attack the United States homeland, our allies, our troops who are based in Europe?
That’s the question that I’m constantly asking because that’s the primary threat that we went there to deal with. And if– if supporting the Afghan national government, and building capacity for their army, and securing certain provinces advances that strategy, then we’ll move forward.
But, if it doesn’t, then I’m not interested in just being in Afghanistan for the sake of being in Afghanistan or saving face or, in some way– you know, sending a message that America– is here for– for the duration. I think it’s important that we match strategy to resources.
What I’m not also gonna do, though, is put the resource question before the strategy question. Until I’m satisfied that we’ve got the right strategy I’m not gonna be sending some young man or woman over there- beyond what we already have.
For years, it’s been "It’s important that we match resources to strategy." And that was important. It’s unfair to ask the military to shoot the moon without giving it a super moon-shooting rocket. (David Cross and Bob Odenkirk were on this.) But it’s more unfair to ask the country — and, for that matter, to ask the military — to keep sending more and more resources into a war without a clear sense of how that war, uniquely, advances American interests. (That is to say it’s not enough to conclude that a war advances American interests. The conclusion has to be there is no meaningful choice but war in order to advance those interests.)
Everyone I interviewed for this story made it clear that there would be no resource request, at all, unless and until Obama has determined the strategy advances that core anti-al-Qaeda interest. That includes , as you’ll see from the sourcing in the piece, people in McChrystal’s circle. I can’t conclude from my reporting that McChrystal is engaged in any power play. Nor is Petraeus engaged in any such power play. The military leadership is getting what it has said for years it wanted: a thorough and deliberative process from the political leadership to determine what the national strategy ought to be. Not a rubber stamp and not knee-jerk rejectionism. It’s all on Obama’s shoulders.
Update: On the other hand, this leak surely came from whomever wants troop levels increased…