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What will Obama do in Afghanistan ? More troops, or … ?

When people talk about Afghanistan and its history, there is unanimity that no outside country can win inside Afghanistan. The British tried it in ‘The Great Game’s in the 19th century, and they lost troops, but never looked to be in a position where they could claim that they had repressed all discontent. The Soviets tried it in the 1980’s, but they were defeated by the terrain, by the fierce Afghans (although aided by the combined weight of Saudi Arabia, the US, and Pakistan); all together, it has always been claimed that no outside force can take control of Afghanistan, and it is predicted that the same will happen to the Americans in their effort in Afghanistan.
After the 2001 WTC attacks, the US supported the Northern Alliance in their battle against the Taleban, and literally bombed the Taliban into giving up their entire occupied territory. However, after that the Americans forgot all about history. George Bush gave up the effort in Afghanistan for the war in Iraq, and the unrest in Iraq made sure that Afghanistan did not get enough troops to protect against a resurgent Taleban, there was not enough support to ensure that development of the incredibly backward regions would happen, and the combination of a weak President Karzai supported by former warlords ensured that development and reform would not happen even though it was incredibly needed.
On the other hand, the Taleban, after taking its knocks in 2001, used a strategy of getting support and medical help for its fighters in Pakistan, and slowly started assuming enough strength to attack the US soldiers.

Now the situation in Afghanistan is that there are just not enough troops on the ground to support the cities, forget the countryside where the Taleban reigns supreme. The US military commander in Afghanistan (Gen. Stanley McChrystal), who was given charge earlier this year, has now asked for 40,000 – 60,000 troops more, making clear that less number of troops than that will lead to a defeat. Obama is already facing many of his own supporters who are asking for a reduction of troops from Afghanistan, or even a complete removal. It is difficult for him to add the number of troops requested, but any refusals (or even going with his veep’s half-baked proposal of less troops, and more missiles and UAV’s) will open him upto the charges of being weak on national security. And if the US now withdraws or reduces its presence, or allows the Taleban to control more territory, this will be a sign of weakness that the US cannot really exhibit, given that it has foes such as Al-Qaeda (and its linked organizations), enemy states such as Iran and North Korea. For these foes, a US withdrawal means that the US does not have the stomach to go in for fights, and is an open invitation to attack it closer to home. Obama needs to take the correct decision, looking into mind the long term, and disregarding the recent award of the Nobel Peace Prize to him.

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