The death of nine U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan Sunday in a Taliban attack underscored the deteriorating security situation there, and the collateral costs of the Bush administration’s ongoing distraction in Iraq.
Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said recently that the United States faced a “very complex problem” in Afghanistan that required a buildup of U.S. forces — but a surge in Afghanistan couldn’t happen as long as U.S. troops were tied down in Iraq.
Barack Obama called Monday for sending an additional two combat brigades to Afghanistan as part of a refocused war-on-terror strategy. “Ending the war is essential to meeting our broader strategic goals, starting in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where the Taliban is resurgent and al-Qaida has a safe haven,” Obama wrote in a New York Times commentary. “Iraq is not the central front in the war on terrorism, and it never has been.”
John McCain said that the “status quo is not acceptable” in Afghanistan and has pledged three more combat brigades of about 3,500 troops each.