New Month Brings New Focus on Afghanistan
By Ben Pershing
The calendar this morning brings a new month, and a renewed focus on the thorny problem of Afghanistan after August was concerned mostly with controversies of the domestic variety.
Gen. Stanley McChrystal says "the situation in Afghanistan is serious, but success is achievable" as he asks for more troops. McClatchy reports that McChrystal's request "is fueling growing tension" within the Obama administration, as "Vice President Joe Biden and other officials are increasingly anxious about how the American public would respond to sending additional troops." George Will, meanwhile writes a sharp, typically allusion-packed column this morning advocating that U.S. troops leave Afghanistan. Will recommends that "forces should be substantially reduced to serve a comprehensively revised policy: America should do only what can be done from offshore, using intelligence, drones, cruise missiles, airstrikes and small, potent Special Forces units, concentrating on the porous 1,500-mile border with Pakistan, a nation that actually matters. Genius ... sometimes consists of knowing when to stop. Genius is not required to recognize that in Afghanistan, when means now, before more American valor ... is squandered."
Politico deems Will's conclusion big headline-worthy, pointing out that he is an "elite conservative columnist" while failing to note that Will has long been a reluctant warrior abroad, who also criticized the war in Iraq when nearly all of his fellow conservatives still backed the mission. Politico separately reports that "White House officials are increasingly worried liberal, anti-war Democrats will demand a premature end to the Afghanistan war," though many congressional liberals are already opposed to sending more troops to the country and there's no legislative vehicle coming in the near future that they could use to turn up the heat on the administration. Matthew Yglesias worries that Obama's current path "all but guarantees an increasingly polarized debate that increasingly pushes liberals into the antiwar camp.
Posted at 8:19 AM ET on Sep 1, 2009
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