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Gates Contradicts Axelrod on Afghan Troop Deployment

Morgen on November 19, 2009 at 7:50 pm

Defense Secretary Robert Gates just exposed David Axelrod as being either ignorant or a liar on the President’s dithering over the decision on more troops for Afghanistan. Here’s Axelrod in an interview with Politico just this past Sunday:

White House senior adviser David Axelrod, who attends the deliberations but says he does not “have a seat at the table,” told POLITICO that the impatience on the momentous decision is a symptom of today’s “A.D.D. political culture.”

“It’s related to politics,” Axelrod said. “No matter what decision he makes, if he were to send troops, the first brigade would not arrive until next spring. So this notion that he is delaying is simply not true. He’s been strong in asking [questions]. He understands what the parameters are for this decision and he’s not going to be pushed into it in order to deal with any kind of transient political controversy.”

And here is Defense Secretary Robert Gates in an interview released by the Associated Press just minutes ago:

“I anticipate that as soon as the president makes his decision, we can probably begin flowing some forces pretty quickly after that,” Gates said.

I’m no military expert but “pretty quickly” sounds like something slightly more immediate than next March or April. And I’ll take the word of the Defense Secretary on this over that of a political hack like Axelrod.

So was Axelrod clueless or was he lying? If the former, I’m sure this wouldn’t be the first (or last) time that Axelrod spoke without knowing what the hell he is talking about. But since according to Axelrod he’s been attending the meetings on Afghan policy, I’m not so willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. The question of how quickly troops could be deployed had to have come up on more than one occasion. 

Perhaps he was counting on the President to delay this decision until after the first of the year, at which point the initial deployment would be close enough to next spring to not really matter. But in any case, it’s clear he was being less than truthful given that based on Gates’ statement we’d probably have more troops on the ground now if Obama had made this decision back in September.

The fact that Axelrod would lie in defense of the President is not a surprise. But what’s really troubling is that for this Administration the political calculus has taken precedence over the safety of our troops. And although he chose his words poorly, I think Fred Thompson is right.

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Category: Politics |

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