Barack Obama is under growing pressure to decide soon whether or not to send more troops to Afghanistan.
On Monday, the US President insisted that he wanted to find the right strategy for fighting the Taliban insurgency before he committed to reinforcements. But a report from the top army commander in Afghanistan, which was leaked yesterday but which Obama has had weeks to consult, warns the mission will fail if more soldiers are not deployed. General Stanley McChrystal also suggested that corruption within the Afghan government has alienated the Afghan people, and that more effort needs to be made to win Afghan hearts and minds. President Obama has already increased the US presence in Afghanistan by almost 50 percent since taking office in January. Ignoring calls to send more troops would give ammunition to his Republican opponents. But as James Phillips, a Middle East expert at The Heritage Foundation explains, increasing troop numbers further would risk angering his own Democrat supporters. Phillips said: “General McChrystal’s report puts the President in an awkward position politically because there are members of his own Democratic party that adamantly oppose increasing the numbers of US troops beyond the 68,000 troops that are autorised for the end of this year.” Making Obama’s choice even more complicated are the ballot-rigging allegations hanging over the Afghan election. These have undermined support for the war, which a majority of Americans now oppose. Public opposition is also mounting in other countries that are losing soldiers to the conflict.