Point / Counterpoint: Inaugural Post

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transAtlantic Magazine is adding new features to our website and our first new addition is our POINT/COUNTERPOINT series which will look at various controversial foreign policy and domestic policy issues from a wide range of viewpoints.

We begin this week with a look at America’s role in Afghanistan and how it is continuing to evolve.We will also look at the role of NATO in Afghanistan and the possible introduction of more American troops.

I look forward to your comments, criticisms and your thoughts on our topic of the week.

I can be reached at rguttman@jhu.edu

Robert J. Guttman
Editor-in-Chief
transAtlantic Magazine and
Director,Johns Hopkins SAIS Center on Politics & Foreign Relations

Obama called the war in Afghanistan a “War of Necessity,” however, is this still the case?

“This is not a war of choice. This is a war of necessity. Those who attacked America on 9/11 are plotting to do so again. If left unchecked, the Taliban insurgency will mean an even larger safe haven from which al Qaeda would plot to kill more Americans. So this is not only a war worth fighting. This is fundamental to the defense of our people.” Barack Obama speaking to the Veterans of Foreign Wars (August 17th, 2009)

In February of 2009, President Obama sent another 17,000 troops to Afghanistan, as requested by former American commander David D. McKiernan, strongly considering the situation to be more pressing than Iraq.

In late March, after much advising and reviewing, the Obama Administration decided to focus on dismantling and defeating the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. The President decided on building up a stronger combat force and assigned Richard C. Holbrooke as Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan. In April, former Lt. General  Karl W. Eikenberry was officially appointed as Ambassador to Afghanistan.

In May, Lt. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal took over as the top American commander in Afghanistan, replacing the ousted McKiernan. McChrystal is requesting at least 40,000 more troops to be deployed into Afghanistan. This is where the debate stems from; however, the political situation in Afghanistan is also to be considered. The controversial Afghanistan elections that took place on August 20th are still being investigated for fraud allegations.

The Obama Administration has stated that a decision to escalate or not escalate the war by increasing troops will not be made until these investigations are over and a new government in Afghanistan is in place. However, this may not be until after the November 7th presidential runoff elections, which both candidates Afghan President Hamid Karzai and former Foreign MInister Abdullah Abduallah have agreed to..

So, is this war still necessary? Should Obama increase troop numbers to Afghanistan?

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