The New York Times runs a helpful curtain-raiser on what the administration is facing regarding its decision timeline on troops and a new strategy. "Obama has had only one meeting so far on the McChrystal review, but aides plan to schedule three or four more after he returns from the Group of 20 summit meeting in Pittsburgh at the end of this week."
"Aides said it should take weeks, not months, to make a decision. 'The president's been very clear in our discussion that he's open-minded and he's not going to be swayed by political correctness one way or the other,' Gen. James L. Jones, the national security adviser, said in an interview. 'Different people are going to have different opinions, and he wants to hear them, but at the end of the day, he's going to do what he thinks is the right thing for the United States and most especially for the men and women who have to respond to his orders.'"
The AP: "President Obama may change course again as the war worsens in Afghanistan, steering away from the comprehensive counterinsurgency strategy he laid out this spring and toward a narrower focus on counterterror operations aimed at al-Qaeda. The White House is looking at expanding counterterror operations in Pakistan as an alternative to a major military escalation in Afghanistan."
"Two senior administration officials said Monday that the renewed fight against al-Qaeda could lead to more missile attacks on Pakistan terrorist havens by unmanned U.S. spy planes. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because no decisions have been made."
The Washington Post adds, "Senior military officials emphasized Monday that McChrystal's conclusion that the U.S. effort in Afghanistan 'will likely result in failure' without an urgent infusion of troops has been endorsed by the uniformed leadership. That includes Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen and Gen. David H. Petraeus… But before any decision is made, some of President Obama's civilian advisers have proposed looking at other, less costly options to address his primary goal of preventing al-Qaeda from reestablishing itself in Afghanistan. Those options include a redirection of U.S. efforts -- away from protecting the Afghan population and building the Afghan state and toward persuading the Taliban to stop fighting -- as well as an escalation of targeted attacks against al-Qaeda itself in Pakistan and elsewhere."
Turning to today's activities at the UN, it's amazing how low expectations are for the trilateral Obama-Netanyahu-Abbas meeting. "Even if little more than a photo opportunity, it will probably be the most-watched portion of a marathon day of international diplomacy for Obama, a 12-hour sprint through many high-profile global problems and disputes."
The AP previews the G-20 meeting that Obama heads to later this week. "In addition to pushing the U.S. agenda, Obama is certain to face tough questions from other G-20 countries over whether his administration can develop a credible plan to curb a soaring U.S. budget deficit that the White House projects will hit an eye-popping $1.548 trillion this year and total $9 trillion over the next decade."