- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 22, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Jeffrey T. Kuhner claims that it is “increasingly apparent that Mr. Obama lacks the experience, character and judgment to be the leader of the Free World” because of his “waffling over Afghanistan” (“Obama’s quagmire,” Opinion, Nov. 15). I would argue that it is President Obama’s careful consideration of the many different facets of the war in Afghanistan that makes him a qualified and thoughtful leader of the American people.

Several of Mr. Kuhner’s claims degenerate into name-calling and judgments of Mr. Obama’s suitability to lead this country. This is his first sentence: “President Obama is in Asia - instead of at home making a key foreign-policy decision.” Mr. Kuhner then proceeds to call delaying a decision on his strategy an “astonishing act of cowardice and dithering.” His column makes sweeping judgments about what countries are acceptable to deal with and assumes that readers agree.

Mr. Kuhner also discusses the various reasons why the president should approve Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal’s request for more troops. Claiming that the surge in Iraq was a success, he says a surge in Afghanistan would be successful, too. But successful according to whom? According to the American public, our military leaders or the people of Afghanistan?

What is most compelling is Mr. Kuhner’s concern for our troops in Afghanistan. He emphasizes that our troops are dying in Afghanistan, and his solution is to send even more troops there. As an American, I would rather save lives than save face. Protecting the lives of our courageous men and women is far more important than maintaining the current cowboy image of U.S. foreign policy.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said: “The president will make a decision based on what he thinks is in the best national security interests of this country.” I believe in the president, who must make decisions carefully and in consideration of as many different opinions as possible. Careful deliberation of all sides of the debate enables Mr. Obama to make well-informed decisions as the leader of a large and diverse country. That is the hallmark of excellent leadership.

ALESE TORRES

Hanover, N.H.

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