Thursday, November 26, 2009

30,000 More Troops To Afghanistan

Writing at the "Daily Beast," veteran foreign affairs watcher Leslie Gelb says he has the inside track on the Afghanistan moves President Obama will announce on Tuesday. Gen. Stanley McCrystal will get at least 30,000 more U.S. troops with an option for 10,000 more in a year if Obama is satisfied with our progress. Our goal will shift from destroying to "dismantling and degrading" al-Qaeda, with a diplomatic component of working more closely with all the nations in the region so that terrorists will have nowhere to hide and rebuild.

Gelb likes what he hears, though he has one big concern:
It’s unclear at the moment just how tough Obama will be with Pakistan. In effect, Islamabad has provided a safe haven for Afghan Taliban for more than a decade as a hedge against Indian encroachments into Afghanistan. As a result, Pakistan urges the United States to stay and fight in Afghanistan to keep the Indians out, but provides succor to the Taliban to hedge against an American withdrawal. So, the Pakistanis want us to stay in Afghanistan and help the Taliban to kill our troops. It’s hard to see how Obama’s new strategy can work unless Pakistan’s leaders are brought to see for themselves the terrible consequences (the strengthening of the Pakistani Taliban extremists) of pursuing this duplicitous course.

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