News Columns & Blogs

Does adding more troops make sense?

Two New York Times columnists have offered thoughtful cases against giving Gen. Stanley McChrystal the extra troops he wants in Afghanistan.Arguing that digging deeper in Afghanistan will weaken the United States, Thomas Friedman wrote: "We simply do not have the Afghan partners, the NATO allies, the domestic support, the financial resources or the national interests to justify an enlarged and prolonged nation-building effort in Afghanistan."Suggesting there are better uses for U.S. dollars right now than "inflaming Pashtun nationalism," Nicholas Kristof doubts more troops will do the trick. He wrote: "We have been fighting in Afghanistan for twice as long as we fought in World War II, with a current price tag estimated to be more than $60 billion a year. Standard counterinsurgency ratios of troops to civilians suggest we would need 650,000 troops (including Afghans) to pacify the country. So will adding 40,000 more to the 68,000 already there make a difference to justify the additional annual cost of $10 billion to $40 billion, especially since they may aggravate the perception of Americans as occupiers?"

  Comments