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Some Strategists Cast Doubt on Afghan War Rationale

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by Gareth Porter

28 Mar 09 | IPS

The argument for deeper U.S. military commitment to the Afghan War invoked by President Barack Obama in his first major policy statement on Afghanistan and Pakistan Friday – that al Qaeda must be denied a safe haven in Afghanistan – has been not been subjected to public debate in Washington.

A few influential strategists here have been arguing, however, that this official rationale misstates the al Qaeda problem and ignores the serious risk that an escalating U.S. war poses to Pakistan.

Those strategists doubt that al Qaeda would seek to move into Afghanistan as long as they are ensconced in Pakistan and argue that escalating U.S. drone airstrikes or Special Operations raids on Taliban targets in Pakistan will actually strengthen radical jihadi groups in the country and weaken the Pakistani government’s ability to resist them.

The first military strategist to go on record with such a dissenting view on Afghanistan and Pakistan was Col. T. X. Hammes, a retired Marine officer and author of the 2004 book “The Sling and the Stone”, which argued that the U.S. military faces a new type of warfare which it would continue to lose if it did not radically reorient its thinking. He became more widely known as one of the first military officers to call in September 2006 for Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s resignation over failures in Iraq. >>>

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Written by Editors

28 March 2009 at 6:00 pm

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