“If my tires are low on air, putting more gas into the car won’t help,” says the senior official.
Any attempt to reassess US strategy in Afghanistan is made more difficult by two factors that don’t exist in Iraq: Much of the violence in Afghanistan stems from terrorist sanctuaries across the border in Pakistan, where coalition forces generally cannot tread. And responsibility lies with a NATO coalition of forces, which means the US has to walk a political tightrope as it sorts out what needs to be done and who should do it.
Experts outside the Pentagon say that though oil-rich Iraq is considered strategically more important, given its proximity to Iran, the US cannot afford to lose in Afghanistan, which is in a region critical to US geo-political interests. Even if it becomes 100 percent secure, the terrorist threat from border regions in Pakistan remains strong.
Regardless of the debate over strategy, political pressure makes more troops in Afghanistan inevitable.
Both presidential hopefuls, Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama, have expressed a desire to provide more resources and troops to Afghanistan, with Sen. Joe Biden, Mr. Obama’s running mate, calling Afghanistan “the real central front on terror” in Denver Tuesday.