Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, said in a confidential document that the war in Afghanistan will "likely result in failure" if he doesn't get more forces within the next year. (The Washington Post, read the text of McChrystal's 66-page assessment)
What the commentators said
It's encouraging that Gen. Stanley McChrystal thinks we can win in Afghanistan, said Nathan Hodge in Wired. But his take on the situation is far from "upbeat." Sending more troops is just part of what McChrystal says we'll need—he also says we'll have to make a complete change of strategy, and find ways to fix the corrupt local government and "the discombobulated coalition."
"Nation building is a manpower-intensive exercise," said Greg Scoblete in RealClearWorld, so it's not surprising that McChrystal would say we need another 10,000 to 45,000 additional soldiers. This puts President Obama in "a very tight spot," because he's being asked to spend lots of enormous resources to achieve "narrow objectives"—but his political enemies will have a field day if he publicly rejects the advice of his military commanders.
There's no question that Gen. Stanley McChrystal's bombshell puts Obama in an "awfully uncomfortable spot," said Michael Crowley in The New Republic. But the president is reconsidering whether a "major escalation" is wise if the government we're supporting is widely seen as "illegitimate." (read The Washington Post's analysis of the White House-Pentagon debate) McChrystal's job is to tell Obama what we need to win the war—"Obama's job is to decide whether, in the context of America's myriad priorities at home and abroad, it's worth the projected cost."
McChrystal's warning is "scary enough," said Pejman Yousefzadeh in the New Ledger, but the truly frightening thing is that Obama may not give his commander the boots he's asking for. "If the Obama administration refuses to send more troops, and if Afghanistan goes to Hell in a handbasket as a consequence, it won’t be possible to use the phrase 'George W. Bush is to blame!' as an excuse."