The Battle over Troops in Afghanistan

September 21, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
A top U.S. general said more troops are needed in Afghanistan but the president's own party may prevent that from happening. More troops and a new strategy won't guarantee victory in Afghanistan, but without them, the war is almost certainly lost. That's according to the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan General Stanley McChrystal.

In the confidential 66 page report obtained by the Washington Post, McChrystal writes: "Although considerable effort and sacrifice have resulted in some progress, many indicators suggest the overall effort is deteriorating."

President Obama: "If, by sending young men and women into harm's way, we are defeating Al Qaeda and -- and that can be shown to a skeptical audience -- namely me, somebody who's always asking hard questions about deploying troops -- then we will do what's required to keep the American people safe."

The report underscores the greatest foreign policy challenge of the Obama presidency. The Commander in Chief isn't sure sending more soldiers to Afghanistan is the answer.

He's already sent 21,000 additional troops, yet his handpicked general said the war will almost certainly be lost without them.

"I don't believe it's possible to turn the country around without more troops, somewhere around 40,000," said Sen. Lindsay Graham (R) South Carolina.

While the president can count on many republicans to support a decision to send more troops, his fellow democrats and the American people are growing increasingly uncertain about the 8 year-old war.

"He campaigned and said that Afghanistan is a strategic imperative for the United States. It is critical to our national security that we be successful there. If he reverses that and backs away from it and is pulled by his left in Congress, I think that would be a huge mistake," said Republican Strategist Ed Gillespie.

According to the latest ABC News/Washington Post Poll on Afghanistan, only about a quarter of Americans favor increasing the levels of U.S. forces there, and 51 percent continue to see the war as not worth fighting.

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