Afghan Election Leaves Obama in Difficult Position

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WASHINGTON -- It appears Afghanistan is gearing up for round-two of its disputed presidential elections, but a run-off will likely delay any White House decision on the U.S. military strategy there.

And that could affect whether President Barack Obama is perceived as a weak or strong leader.

Afghans went to the polls to elect a new president two months ago Tuesday, but allegations of widespread fraud have kept the results in question -- until now.

Click play for an analysis of what is at stake in the war in Afghanistan from CBN News Senior International Correspondent Gary Lane.

President Hamid Karzai reportedly has agreed to a run-off -- after a third of his votes were thrown out because of fraud.

The uncertain outcome doesn't only affect the 28 million people who live there. It also affects U.S. and NATO troops fighting a war now eight years in the making.

"I really hope that we will have a clarification of the political situation in Afghanistan as soon as possible because, in general, time is not on our side," said Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NATO Secretary General.

President Obama is weighing options about the way forward militarily.

Key members of his administration have hinted that a final decision depends on the election results -- and partnering with a credible government.
 
"Obviously, this is a major part of our strategic review as to getting the election behind us, getting a new government that can represent the partnership we're seeking as we move forward," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.

The top military commander in Afghanistan -- Gen. Stanley McChrystal -- wants to send in 60,000 more troops.

But disagreement among the president's team of advisors has led to several meetings without a decision for a clear strategy, leaving critics to question his strength and leadership.

"The president has reached a tipping point whether deliberation is starting to look like hesitation," Republican strategist Kevin Madden said.

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., the top ranking lawmaker on the Foreign Relations Committee, has been in Afghanistan trying to negotiate an agreement on the disputed elections.

There, he defended the president for taking time to deliberate.

"I don't see how President Obama can make a decision about the committing of our additional forces, or even the further fulfillment of our mission that's here today, without an adequate government in place or knowledge about what that government's going to be," Kerry said on CBS's Face The Nation.

But the president campaigned on ramping up the war in Afghanistan -- now seen as a test of his own making.

Will he scale back and appease his liberal base on the increasingly unpopular war?

Or will he affirm his own belief and campaign pledge?

Many are still waiting for his answer.

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John Jessup serves as the main news anchor for CBN, a position he assumed after 10 years reporting for the network in Washington, D.C. His work in broadcast news has earned him several awards in reporting, producing, and coordinating elections coverage. Follow John on Twitter @JohnCBNNews and "like" him at Facebook.com/John.V.Jessup.