IN Afghanistan they would call it a shura, the traditional tribal way of listening to elders’ views before reaching a consensus. In Washington, where President Barack Obama has now held five war councils, they are starting to call it dithering.
With another council on the Afghan war scheduled for this week, US officials admit it could be November before a decision is finally taken on whether to agree to General Stanley McChrystal’s request for more troops. One participant revealed that the protagonists have not yet discussed troop numbers.
Latest polls show a majority of Americans now disapprove of Obama’s handling of a war which may come to define his presidency. Many senior members of his own party are in open revolt.
Senator Robert Byrd, at 91 a Democratic institution, was so incensed that he dragged himself from his hospital bed last week to make a 13-minute speech. “Does it really take 100,000 troops to find Osama Bin Laden?” he wondered. “And how much will this cost? How much in terms of more dollars? How much in terms of American blood?”....