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Choreography of Afghan announcement

Mark Mardell | 17:44 UK time, Monday, 30 November 2009

The ball is rolling.


Obama's 10th meeting with his top team in the Oval Office last night was not to further debate the strategy, but to set out his decision. He then spoke by video link to the Nato commander in the field, General Stanley McChrystal, and the US ambassador to the region, Karl Eikenberry. As commander-in-chief, President Obama then issued new orders to the US military, detailing the new troop deployments that he wants.

According to ABC's Jake Tapper, the president has been given a first draft of the speech he will make at West Point tomorrow night, and is working on it.

He's called the Russian president and the French president and will talk to Gordon Brown on secure video link at 6pm London time. President Obama will see around 30 members of Congress tomorrow, both Republican and Democrat, to brief them on his decision.

Of course Mr Brown has already made his speech to the House of Commons setting out his strategic approach. It is all part of the choreography. The idea that the UK has an Afghan strategy separate from that of the US is fanciful.

But after the continual accusation that Tony Blair, the former British prime minister, faithfully followed ex-US President George W Bush's wishes, Mr Brown can't afford to be seen as anything less than an equal partner. The fact that Mr Brown has his day in the House of Commons before President Obama sets out his strategy is part of that.


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