A Winnable Fight: No More US Troops to Afghanistan

The stars are aligning for a winnable and worthwhile fight on U.S.
policy in Afghanistan in the next several weeks: stopping the Obama
Administration from sending more troops.

It should be winnable, because: the public is against sending more
troops, the overwhelming majority of Democrats are against sending more
troops, key Democrats in Congress have begun to speak out against
sending more troops, the Obama Administration is divided, President
Obama hasn't taken a public position, and the Obama Administration has
signaled that it will not take a public position for several weeks. The
delay gives opponents time to mobilize, more members of Congress the
opportunity to speak out before the Administration solidifies its

It's a worthwhile fight, among other reasons, because if we want the
U.S. government to seriously pursue diplomatic efforts to resolve the
Afghanistan conflict politically, we have to jam them up on the
"military option."

On October 1, the U.S. plans to talk to Iran. This is happening, in
part, because Washington doesn't see a "military option" in Iran now.
Part of the reason Washington doesn't see a military option in Iran is
because they don't perceive the U.S. public as supporting a military

Denying the Pentagon access to more U.S. troops isn't the most
subtle, nuanced way to influence U.S. policy. But it's the main lever
that the public has.

The political battle over more U.S. troops isn't a battle over
what's going to happen in Afghanistan next month. The troop increase
that President Obama approved earlier this year has not yet been
completed. It's a political battle about what's going to happen in the
next several years.

Indeed, if President Obama were to approve 10,000 more troops beyond
the increase already approved, the likely effect over time would be
simply to replace the troops from other countries that are almost
certain to leave.

Canada's Prime Minister has recently reaffirmed that Canada's 2,500 troops are leaving in 2011.

Italy's Prime Minister Berlusconi says Italy's 2,800 troops should leave Afghanistan "soon." A key coalition partner says they should leave in three months.

British Prime Minister Brown has told the US he wants to cut UK troop numbers from more than 9,000 to fewer than 5,000 in "three to five years, maximum," the Independent recently reported.

That's about 10,000 troops right there. Of course, these withdrawals are likely to spur others.

In 2011, the "foreign" military forces in Afghanistan will be
overwhelmingly U.S. forces, even more so than today. That's the world
that would be put in place by the U.S. troop increase that's being

Now is the time for Congress and the American people to speak up. If
the Administration publicly commits itself to sending more troops, it
will be much harder for Democrats in Congress to oppose.

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