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article imageAfghan war strategy still in question, skepticism increases

By Michael Krebs     Oct 3, 2009 in World
Six months have passed without a strategic implementation of direction in Afghanistan. As events on the ground go from bad to worse, skepticism is increasing.
Afghanistan has a history of creating military quagmires for powerful nations, and America is not an exception. The difficult terrain and the shifting tribal alliances throughout Afghanistan make for unsettling ground and force the question of resolve on the implementation of foot soldiers. Given this, U.S. and NATO strategy in Afghanistan is now an open question - and its openness is a cause for greater alarm among a growing base of skeptics.
“What we are seeing is that the people who were sceptical of the Afghanistan strategy in the winter are now reopening the argument,” Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer who chaired the administration’s last review of Afghanistan-Pakistan policy, told the Financial Times. “Pretty much six months has since gone by without a rigorous implementation of what was agreed to and that has only made a bad situation worse.”
President Obama had endorsed Riedel's strategy in March, yet the plan was not fully enforced. Criticism of the Afghan strategy is now widespread - as many Democrats, including Vice President Joe Biden, are questioning the direction. There appear to be two camps on the matter - one that endorses more troop deployments in Afghanistan and another that supports the use of drone attacks on Taliban bases in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Biden supports an alternative strategy that focuses on a lean counter-terrorism approach. This strategy is not expected to be endorsed by Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
On Friday, President Obama held an unannounced meeting with General McChrystal, commander of the Afghan war. The two men discussed strategic recommendations, but it was unclear as to what was agreed. It was their first face-to-face meeting since McChrystal was put in charge of the Afghan campaign - and their third talk on the conflict.
Many NATO countries have been removing their troops from Afghanistan, prompting President Obama to remind them that Afghanistan is not "an American battle."
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