U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and White House Chief of Staff Rham Emanuel have differing viewpoints on when a decision must be made to "up" troop strength in Afghanistan. Not only do they have differing viewpoints, but Emanuel has declined to include Gates in the conversation. Updates as available. See video below.
Gates says we cannot wait for the certified results of the Afghan elections to make the decision: "getting something done before winter sets in" is more important to the military than "security." The video below indicates that November 7th, 2009 is set for a new election.
This report says that a "U.N.-backed fraud watchdog invalidated tens of thousands of votes" for current president, Hamid Karzai. International observers are calling for a new election. Lovely. Nothing like having the corrupt U.N. involved in politics.
Secretary Gates and Obama Chief of Staff, Rham Emanuel, have differing views. A Gates spokesman, Geoff Morrell, said the "the issue of the Afghan government's legitimacy went well beyond the question of whoever would be declared winner of the election, or an eventual run-off. Emanuel said yesterday the question is not: "how many troops you send, but do you have a credible Afghan partner."
From The Weekly Standard, Bill Kristol writing:
I’ve now been told by an authoritative source close to Defense Secretary Robert Gates that he had no advance warning that Emanuel would be saying any such thing.
Update: A former government official e-mails:
Sen. McCain and other supporters of the effort in Afghanistan have feared from the beginning of this process that White House politicos were trying to get the pesky military out of the policy loop.
Now it appears they are bypassing even the SecDef.
Its hard to think of another time when the White House chief of staff and politicos were making policy so independently of the national security team, in this case apparently excluding the SecDef, SecState, and the Chairman of the JCS. (The otherwise weak national security advisor retired General Jim Jones serves only one purpose here: to provide a shield for the politicos to reject military advice.)
Maybe it all turns out well in the end, but it's an interesting indication of how this administration runs foreign policy. Hope Hillary and Gates and the Joint Chiefs enjoy the ride.In the video below, Hamid Karzai's chief opponent in the Afghan elections, Abdullah Abdullah, says people want "change."