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News Link • Afghanistan

America's Afghanistan Quagmire: Nobody is Winning

• Steve Clemons
Nation editor Katrina vanden Heuvel published last week in the Washington Post a no nonsense assessment of America's situation in Afghanistan.

Read the entire oped, but the zingers are that General Stanley McChrystal has acknowledged that there is a stalemate in Afghanistan now. This means that after an increase of nearly 16,000 troops of the Obama-pledged 30,000, the U.S. is not seeing a shift in its fortunes.

Marja is a mess, and Kandahar lurks out there as a potentially very messy unknown.

Vanden Heuvel writes:

There is a sense of Taliban momentum -- even Gen. Stanley McChrystal recently declared, "Nobody is winning," and military officials are now minimizing expectations for the upcoming Kandahar offensive. The highly touted operation in Marja that began three months ago has failed to dislodge the Taliban.

The continued occupation of a fiercely independent and tribal Afghanistan -- as well as the death of tens of thousands of civilians -- engenders anti-Americanism and fuels terrorist recruitment. Military operations have also pushed violent jihadists across the border and further destabilized a nuclear-armed Pakistan -- a far greater threat to our national security than any tenuous al-Qaeda "safe haven" in Afghanistan.

Finally, focusing so many resources on Afghanistan -- where al-Qaeda is now minimally present -- diverts vital resources from other urgent security needs, including economic recovery at home. For the first time, the monthly cost of the war in Afghanistan exceeds what we spend in Iraq -- $6.7 billion per month, compared with $5.5 billion in Iraq.

At the end of May, appropriations for both wars will reach over $1 trillion -- mostly borrowed money that we're not investing at home. Upcoming congressional hearings on veterans care will demonstrate the human costs. No wonder a majority of Americans -- 52 percent -- believe the war "is not worth its costs," according to a recent Washington Post poll.


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