The Obama answer to Afghanistan: Escalation

afghanistanThe Associated Press reports Tuesday, Feb. 17, that President Obama has approved sending 17,000 more troops to Afghanistan. It’s the first step in an escalation that could eventually double U.S. presence there to 60,000 soldiers.

The move, though not unexpected, raises broad concerns because the new administration doesn’t have any clearer strategy for the region than did the Bush administration.

Presidential candidate Obama attracted the support of progressives because he was an early critic of the Iraq War. Now he finds himself in the unusual position of becoming a salesman for escalation in Afghanistan.

At least some progressives in Congress are signaling their reservations. “The idea of putting troops in without having more clarity at least gives me pause,” U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., a leading anti-war voice in Congress, told the AP.

This is the editor’s note I wrote in the July 31 edition of Illinois Times:

“Barack Obama is right to call for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq; he and his Republican opponent, John McCain, are gravely mistaken in their pledge to add more combat brigades to Afghanistan. The deteriorating situation there, foreign-policy experts say, suggests the need for alternatives to military force. It’s a lesson we should have learned from the Soviet Union, which was brought to its knees by a nation of radicalized and determined guerrilla fighters. Obama owes much of his support to his promise to reverse the Bush administration’s military adventurism. He threatens to squander that support by pledging to expand conflict elsewhere.”

Go to for more information. — Roland Klose