The Gibbsnotist! (Getty)
Something has been missing from all the discussion and debate of a new war strategy for Afghanistan. Something — what was it? A new color scheme? Some leafy plants? A well-delivered speech? No! It was an exit strategy. That just never really came up. Until now — and President Obama is reportedly in the market for one.
“We have been there for eight years and we're not going to be there forever,” White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters on Air Force One today. “It's important to fully examine not just how we're going to get folks in, but how we're going to get folks out.”
This is new. Over the weekend, McClatchy newspapers reported that Obama was probably going to send about 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan. CBS News followed up with a report saying he was leaning more toward 40,000. Speculation! Unnamed sources! The White House pushed back with a statement from National Security Advisor Jim Jones (the unicorn of the Obama administration — mythical, but rarely seen) saying no decision had been made.
Which begged the question: Really? Months of meetings and no decision? CNN cited unnamed sources complaining that Pentagon officials were trying to box Obama in with a series of leaks. Defense Secretary Robert Gates subsequently warned that any more leaks could prove career-ending.
A fresh wave of reporting as Obama departed for Asia with his Afghanistan plans still up in the air said he was not interested in any of the four scenarios previously under discussion, and just wanted to talk about getting out of Dodge. As Bloomberg notes, it's all about off-ramps now:
“An exit strategy is as important as ramping up troops,” Gibbs told reporters.