Last night, CBS reported that President Obama has decided to send “four combat brigades plus thousands more support troops” giving Gen. Stanley McChystal “most, if not all, the additional troops he is asking for.”
If the story is accurate (and the White House, via National Security Advisor James Jones, says it is not), the bloggingheads diavlog that I recorded with Peter Beinart late Friday, and that went live yesterday afternoon, could be safely filed under “Day Late, Dollar Short.”
But I hope that is not the case for two reasons. First, I continue to hold out hope that President Obama will choose instead to focus our counterterrorism efforts in other ways, and in other places, instead of deepening our involvement in what is already the longest war in our history. And if he hasn’t made up his mind, perhaps my arguments (which build on those of my colleagues Malou Innocent and Ted Galen Carpenter, and many others) might still have an impact.
Second, if the president has decided to follow the advice of those who called for more troops (most of whom – it is worth noting – were also leading advocates for the disastrous Iraq war), it is important for those of us who harbored doubts to have publicly registered our concerns.
A similar willingness to speak out on the part of some Iraq war skeptics within the foreign policy community was sorely lacking in 2002 and 2003. Perhaps that unhappy experience has reminded people that the time for raising concerns is before, not after, a decision is made to escalate a war.