WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Obama will announce his new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan within days, White House officials said today. According to several published reports, the announcement will be made in a televised speech to the nation Dec. 1, though the White House said details haven’t been finalized.
Obama is believed to be considering increasing troop levels in Afghanistan, though the exact amount is uncertain. Senior administration and military officials are divided on the issue. The top U.S. general in Afghanistan, Stanley McChrystal recommended sending 40,000 more troops, though some other senior officials have recommended sending fewer or none at all.
Regardless of his decision, Obama will have to sell it to a voting public disenchanted with the war effort. Just 44 percent in a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll said the war, begun in the aftermath of 9/11, has been worth the cost. And just 45 percent said they approved of how Obama has been handling the conflict.
Calls for change in Afghanistan and Pakistan have intensified from within Obama’s own party in Congress.
Minnesota’s 5th District Rep. Keith Ellison, who traveled to the region two weeks ago, said last week that he wouldn’t support sending more troops to Afghanistan unless Afghan President Hamid Karzai cleans up corruption in his administration and “makes himself into a president that the United States can support.”
Then there’s the question of how any future war effort will be paid for. Fourth District Rep. Betty McCollum last week joined such senior House Democrats as Appropriations Chairman David Obey and Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank in sponsoring a bill that would impose a surtax to pay for the war.