In Afghanistan, Making a Case for More Troops

A top national security expert suggests adding as many as nine brigades in Afghanistan. Not everyone likes the idea.

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What will it take prevent Afghanistan from becoming a wasteful mess? 45,000 more American troops, according to leading military analyst Anthony Cordesman. The estimate followed grim speculation that the Taliban may have the upper hand in Afghanistan and warnings from a top U.S. general that casualties would rise in coming days.

  • The Case for More Troops  If the goal is stopping the Taliban across the country, Cordesman urged the removal of "as many national caveats and restrictions on troops as possible." Spencer Ackerman of The Washington Independent agreed, saying that simultaneous attempts to drive away insurgents from different regions required additional forces. As for Cordesman's other recommendations, Ackerman was less enthusiastic.

  • Do It for America, Not Afghans  Taylor Marsh stepped forward to articulate the case against more troops, saying that it was foolish to think that "we can decentralize a country that’s known nothing else, as well as eradicating Taliban elements without realizing when we leave they’ll step back in." Continuing, she said that "it will once again prove to me that if he’d been in the Senate in 2002 he would have voted along with other Democrats to preemptively invade ."
  • No Surprises At All  For Michael Cowen at Democracy Arsenal, the Cordesman column was simply another occasion to use the headline "Afghanistan Mission Creep Watch." Charles Lemos at Direct Democracy wasn't surprised either, saying that a troop increase "should have been expected from the get-go."

For those keeping track of the Obama administraiton's progress in the region, Foreign Policy's David Rothkopf gave President Obama the lowest grade possible in a "report card" published last week.

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