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25 November 2017 03:55 (South Africa)

Afghanistan a partisan divide for US politics

President Obama is drawing near to a decision on troops and strategy in Afghanistan, but the American public is pulling him in two directions – those who want success and those who wish to contain (or  end) participation in this eight-year war. As a presidential candidate, Obama sided with Afghanistan as a necessary war and opposed the war in Iraq. However, he now has to grapple with how to quash al-Qaeda and the Taliban without staying forever in Afghanistan, the “graveyard of empires”. The Obama administration’s internal debate has nearly spun out of control with leaks and counter-leaks, following Afghanistan commander General Stanley McChrystal’s proposal for up to 60,000 new troops, even as the White House insists this kind of debate is key to getting it right in the end.  Public opinion is making Obama’s task more difficult. Recent polls show 45% of Americans approve of Obama's handling of Afghanistan (most likely Republicans), and about the same number say the war is not worth it (most likely Democrats). This is a drop from a 62% approval level in July.  As Obama reaches the decision moment, only he can decide where he comes down, but then he has to live with the consequences. For more, read the Washington Post

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