Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal has told
the Pentagon and NATO that the war in Afghanistan can be won with a revised strategy that does not request more troops be added. But it could also be the general's way of leaning towards asking for more forces. As the war leaves behind its bloodiest month for the United States, the debate is divided between those who think the war is continuing to serve the national interest, and those who don't.
- This is Obama's War Financial Times (and Atlantic) columnist Clive Crook said President Obama has wrongly declared Afghanistan to be a "necessary war" to deny al-Qaeda sanctuary because the organization is now in Pakistan. "The ungoverned areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan are anyway not the
only such regions in the world. Why put 68,000 troops in Afghanistan
and leave other plausible terrorist havens, such as Somalia, to their
own devices?" Still, Crook said, the war should be fought because a Taliban victory may destabilize Pakistan and abandoning Afghans would break the promise to defend them.
- McChrystal's Right An adviser to the general, Anthony Cordesman, wrote that the war is being lost because the U.S. hasn't provided adequate resources to fight it. What's needed are 2,500 to 5,000 more personnel to develop Afghan security forces that can take responsibility for the country's fate, he wrote. U.S. soldiers need to secure the population and build the the "provincial, district and local government capabilities that the Kabul government cannot and will not build for them," Cordesman said. "Unfortunately, strong elements in the White House, State Department and
other agencies seem determined to ignore these realities" by requesting McChrystal give broad recommendations rather than requests for more men and civil-military plans.
- Prepared to Go The New York Times editorial board said it will be nearly impossible to request more money and men from Congress because the Afghan elections were rife with allegations of voter fraud favoring President Karzai. Moreover, Karzai's decision to ally with two men accused of drug trafficking and war crimes is "the wrong way to build the country’s
- More Aid, Less Corruption Slate's Fred Kaplan wrote last week
that Obama realizes the U.S. can't stay the course, but suggested a
relatively novel fix to the problem: more money for the Afghan
government if it shapes up. Afghans care less whether their president is a crook, and
more about whether he provides better services, Kaplan said. To do that the next
leader will need "enormous amounts of
aid from foreign governments.... However, it's clear that no
governments are going to open their own thinned-out wallets unless
they're sure the aid won't go to waste. This means Karzai or his
successor will have to crack down on corruption and appoint a set of
new (and technically competent) ministers and governor."
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