President Obama's address to the nation last night about his decision to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan and his hope that the move will turn around a rapidly deteriorating situation there are dominating the news this morning.
As NPR's Kevin Whitelaw puts it, the president "assumed full political ownership of the conflict in Afghanistan" and all that comes with it.
Now, NPR's Ken Rudin adds, comes the tough task of selling the strategy to a skeptical Congress: "There is clear restlessness on Capitol Hill about what to do with the war in Afghanistan, now in its ninth year and showing little sign of a successful conclusion. And much of the restlessness and concerns are coming from Obama's own party."
The selling of the strategy begins in earnest at 9 a.m. ET, when the Senate Armed Services Committee hears from Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. We'll pass on news from that hearing as it happens. The back-and-forth should be interesting: Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., has been skeptical of the plan to send more combat troops and the top Republican on the panel, 2008 GOP presidential nominee Sen. John McCain of Arizona, thinks it was wrong of the president to say that U.S. troops should be able to start coming home in 2011.
On Morning Edition, hosts Steve Inskeep and Renee Montagne spoke with three experts about the president's strategy. John Nagl, president of the Center for a New American Security, Alex Thier, director for Afghanistan and Pakistan at the United States Institute of Peace, and Steve Coll, president and CEO of the New America Foundation, analyzed the new strategy:
Afghanistan: It's Now 'Obama's War'
Other stories about the strategy:
-- The New York Times -- Obama Had "Two Messages For Two Sides": " President Obama went before the nation on Tuesday night to announce that he would escalate the war in Afghanistan. And Mr. Obama went before the nation to announce that he had a plan to end the war in Afghanistan. If the contrasting messages seemed jarring at first, they reflect the obstacles Mr. Obama faces in rallying an increasingly polarized country that itself is of two minds about what to do in Afghanistan."
-- The Wall Street Journal -- "Success Hinges On Strength Of Karzai"; Weakness Of Taliban: "President Barack Obama's new Afghanistan strategy represents a significant gamble, the success of which will turn on two key assumptions about the main characters in the Afghan drama: The first assumption is that President Hamid Karzai can be made stronger than is often supposed. The second is that the Taliban enemy is weaker than is often imagined."
-- Conservative William Kristol in The Weekly Standard -- Obama's Now A "War President"" " President Obama went to West Point, said it was an honor to be with young soldiers who embody what's finest about our country, described approvingly and patriotically America's historic achievements in the 'noble struggle for freedom,' and spoke as a war president. A good thing, too. Because when you're at war, you need a war president."
-- Michael Brenner of the Center for Transatlantic Relations, writing at the liberal Huffington Post -- "1984 Here We Are": "Dishonesty in Washington at high levels has become like poverty in India. Just when you think you've seen the very bottom, you discover yet a lower level of degradation. After the Bush years of outright lies and systematic deception, we now have Obama plumbing new depths as he tortures the very language itself. 1984 here we are. Escalation is withdrawal; establishing a protectorate wherein the United States runs the government behind a nominal Afghan fa??ade is 'not nation-building;' a facsimile of a British style native state under the Raj is transmuted into self-determination."
Update at 8:25 a.m. ET. Also on Morning Edition, NPR's Don Gonyea rounded up the mixed reaction from Republicans: