Obama's Afghan troop decision delay provokes anger at Pentagon
ident Barack Obama's decision to postpone responding to the military request for 40,000 more troops in Afghanistan the after next month's run-off election is heightening tensions between the White House and Pentagon. Robert Gates, the secretary of defence, denied there was any rift over Afghanistan but argued that uncertainty over the legitimacy of the Kabul government would not be resolved by a run-off alone and that the political situation would not be resolved overnight. "Clearly, having the run-off, getting it behind us and then moving forward is very important," he said in Tokyo. "But I think we need to be realistic that the issues of corruption and governance that we are trying to work with the Afghan government on are not going to be solved simply by the outcome of the presidential election. This is going to be a work in progress, an evolutionary process, and we need to be realistic on that." When asked on Monday about the troop request from General Stanley McChrystal, the Nato commander in Afghanistan, Mr Gates responded: "We're not just going to sit on our hands, waiting for the outcome of this election and for the emergence of a government in Kabul." His comments put him at odds with the White House, which at the weekend began saying that it was necessary for the question mark over the Afghan government to be resolved before troop levels could be altered. "It would be reckless to make a decision on US troop levels if, in fact, you haven't done a thorough analysis of whether, in fact, there's an Afghan partner ready to fill that space that the US troops would create and become a true partner in governing the Afghan country," Rahm Emanuel, Mr Obama's chief of staff, said on Sunday. Last week, Thomas Tradewell, national commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, which represent some 1.5 million veterans, echoed the private concerns of senior officers. "The extremists are sensing weakness and indecision within the US government, which plays into their hands," he said in a statement.