For the past 90 days, President Obama has been hammered by opponents on the right who claim he's taken too long to announce his plan for the war in Afghanistan. In his speech at West Point this evening, Obama said the entire debate was unfounded. Obama's plan dispatches 30,000 additional troops to the conflict starting in January -- the earliest deployment date called for by his generals, he said.
From the speech:
Let me be clear: there has never been an option before me that called for troop deployments before 2010, so there has been no delay or denial of resources necessary for the conduct of the war. Instead, the review has allowed me ask the hard questions, and to explore all of the different options along with my national security team, our military and civilian leadership in Afghanistan, and with our key partners. Given the stakes involved, I owed the American people - and our troops - no less.
After the speech was over, RNC chair Michael Steele continued to criticize Obama over the decision-making process, but agreed with Obama's final plan announced tonight.
"Although this decision took far too long and it should not have, I am glad the president will finally provide General McChrystal with the troops he needs," Steele said. "If the president remains committed to this crucial fight, Republicans - and the American people - will stand with him. But sending mixed signals by outlining the exit before these troops even get on the ground undermines their ability to succeed."