Tales from the Trail

Public forecast for Afghan strategy – stalemate

Americans have doubts over whether President Barack Obama’s new Afghanistan strategy will ultimately result in victory, but a majority say the war is morally justified.

A CNN/Opinion Research Corp poll finds that 57 percent said the most likely outcome for the United States in Afghanistan would be a stalemate, with 29 percent predicting victory.

AFGHANISTAN-USA/When asked whether a victory was possible or not possible, 58 percent of those surveyed said it was possible, while 41 percent said it was not possible.

But asked the same question about defeat, the responses were quite similar:  60 percent said defeat was possible, while 38 percent said defeat was not possible.

A majority — 63 percent — said U.S. action in Afghanistan was morally justified.

In the other White House war …

USA/He almost said it, but he didn’t. Vice President Joe Biden, who has a reputation for verbal gaffes, almost asked “Who cares?” but stopped himself, when he weighed in on the White House’s latest war of words with his predecessor, former Vice President Dick Cheney.

Cheney, a repeated critic of the Obama administration’s foreign policy initiatives, this week accused President Barack Obama of “dithering” and being scared to make a decision on whether to send more troops to Afghanistan.

“I think that is absolutely wrong. I think what the administration is doing is exactly what we said it would do.  And what I think it warrants doing. And that is making an informed judgment based upon circumstances that have changed … to come up with a sustainable policy that has more than one dimension,” Biden told pool reporters traveling with him at the U.S. Ambassador’s residence in Prague.

Reasoning with the Taliban

AFGHANISTAN/OBAMAIn the past few weeks, as President Barack Obama closes in on a decision about sending more troops to Afghanistan, a couple of alluring ideas have resurfaced in Washington.

The first is that talks with the Taliban, or with members of the fundamentalist Islamist movement, might be worth pursuing more agressively, to advance the day that U.S. troops could begin to leave.

The second is the suggestion the Taliban in Afghanistan might be willing to sever its ties to al Qaeda, or that growing Taliban influence there may not directly threaten the United States.

McCain says troop increase in Afghanistan needed

Republican Senator John McCain is clashing with Democratic Senator Carl Levin over Levin’s comments that he does not want to send additional troops to Afghanistan.

McCain, the ranking minority member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told Reuters a surge is needed like was done in Iraq and that Levin’s recommendations remind him of how then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld tried to fight the Iraq war — “He thought that we could win on the cheap and at one point the entire Iraqi army collapsed,” McCain said. AFGHANISTAN/

“So in all due respect to Senator Levin and the others, we have to have a significant troop increase, otherwise we’re going to lose.”