US President Barack Obama is apparently close to a decision to send tens of thousands of additional troops to Afghanistan, though not the more than 40,000 proposed by his commander there, General Stanley McChrystal three months ago in his “secret”, but well-publicised report. Despite the rumours, however, the White House continues to say there is no presidential decision yet – either on troop levels or strategy changes in Afghanistan. Sources say the additional deployment may begin early in the new year. Rumours continue that the eventual Obama announcement will cover much more than just a decision on troop levels and would speak to a refocusing of the American commitment in Afghanistan. A key part of the debate inside the Obama administration has been whether to move towards a more robust counter-insurgency strategy of retaking territory previously yielded to the Taliban and holding it while Americans work to rebuild and improve services for the Afghan population. This new approach aimed at a middle ground would deny Taliban advances on urban districts while building public support for the government of President Hamid Karzai. The problem there is that Karzai’s government is widely seen as ineffectual and corrupt. Read more: AP
Riding a Black Unicorn Down the Side of an Erupting Volcano While Drinking from a Chalice Filled with the Laughter of Small Children is the title of a dark cabaret album by 'Voltaire'