Leading article: Mr Obama must take his time

Share
Related Topics

This month has seen the heaviest US death toll in the eight years of war in Afghanistan. By yesterday, 55 soldiers had lost their lives, 14 of them in air crashes earlier this week. Most of the others were killed by the roadside bombs – known as improvised explosive devices – that have been the scourge of British troops in Helmand Province. Then yesterday it was disclosed that Matthew Hoh had become the first senior US diplomat in Afghanistan to resign, citing his disagreement with US policy. His resignation, he said, was based not on how the US was pursuing the war, but "why and to what end".

Both developments add to the pressure on President Obama to announce his long-awaited decision on future strategy. His opponents, and even some of his supporters, are accusing him of dithering. There is a downside, they are starting to say, to having a President with an intellectual cast of mind.

Such a conclusion would be premature. The immediate choice, crudely put, appears to be between a "surge" in troop numbers, as favoured by the army command, and a complete reorientation of policy to focus narrowly on anti-terrorism. Both the increase in US casualties and Mr Hoh's resignation will, and should, feed into the decision Mr Obama will ultimately make. But the US President is right not to allow himself to be rushed.

A great deal is in flux at the moment. The extent of fraud in the Afghan election and the delays in publishing the results meant that Mr Obama had no option but to put any decision on hold. President Karzai's belated acceptance of the need for a second-round means further delay. But his desire for a clear-cut result, rather than an inconclusive power-sharing with the runner-up, Abdullah Abdullah, has to be respected.

The election run-off is awkward and could prove costly, including in lives, but the outcome – more than anything else that happens – will affect Mr Obama's calculations. Mr Hoh's question – why and to what end the US is engaged in Afghanistan – is the only question that really matters. But until there is a resolution to the electoral fracas, the US President would be irresponsible to finalise his answer.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior BI Engineer (BI/MI, Data Mining)

£60000 - £65000 per annum + Bonus & Benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior BI Enginee...

Retail Promotions Manager – TV and Film Catalogue

Up to £171 PAYE per day (equal to 40 – 45K ) : Sauce Recruitment: This is a te...

Nursery Nurse

£7 - £8 per hour: Randstad Education Leeds: Nursery Nurse Level 3 or above Ear...

Special Needs teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Special Need teachers required t...

Day In a Page

 

Naturism criminalised: Why not being able to bare all is a bummer

Simon Usborne
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on