Carnage in Pakistan and America’s bloodiest month in Afghanistan are sharpening President Barack Obama’s dilemma on troop deployments while stoking political demands for swifter action.
“We watch this situation continue to deteriorate while this long protracted process of decision making goes on," Republican Senator John McCain told CBS.
“We are not operating in a vacuum. The president of the United States needs to make this decision and soon. Our allies are nervous and our military leadership is becoming frustrated.”
The White House counters that Obama’s soul searching is justified by the gravity of his choice on whether to plunge tens of thousands of people into the worsening war.
"I don't think the American people agree with Senator McCain on that," Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs said.
"I think it's important to hear and to get this right."
Already fragile US public opinion on the war is being tested by a rush of recent casualties in Afghanistan, with October the bloodiest month for American troops of the eight-year conflict so far.
Vicious bombings in Pakistan -- the latest killing 92 people in a Peshawar market Wednesday -- are meanwhile stirring new fears of instability and concern for the US-allied government in Islamabad.
The Peshawar bombing erupted hours after the start of a visit to Pakistan by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who vowed the United States would stand "shoulder to shoulder" with Pakistan's people in the anti-terror struggle.
But the fraud-tainted Afghan election, political maneuvering over the run-off, and a brazen Taliban attack on a UN compound in Kabul which killed eight people will hardly stem skepticism of the US Afghan mission.