Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the commander of US and NATO troops in Afghanistan, gave an unusually blunt speech to the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London Thursday. He said that it would be “shortsighted” to narrow the US mission in the eight year old war in Afghanistan and focus on attacking Al Qaeda targets that are primarily based in Pakistan.
The following day, President Obama summoned McChrystal to Copenhagen, where the president was attending an Olympic summit.
Rumors in Washington have Vice President Joe Biden favoring the sort of constrained course that McChrystal dismissed, and these differences were supposed to be addressed and discussed in meetings held in the White House Situation Room – one last week and two more Wednesday and Friday.
The general, who was handpicked for his current assignment by Defense Secretary Robert Gates and endorsed by Mr. Obama, contends that Afghanistan could become a haven for terrorists if its government were to fall to the Taliban. He reportedly favors using additional American troops to help secure civilian areas in Afghanistan.