Barack Obama has declared there will be no quick decision on increasing the US troop deployment in Afghanistan.
Speaking from the Oval Office, the US president was responding to the latest assessment from his top military advisor that more soldiers were probably needed to fight the growing insurgency. “Certainly you don’t make determinations about sending young men and women into battle, without having absolute clarity about what the strategy is going to be, and so we are going to proceed and make sure that we don’t put the cart before the horse,” said President Obama. There are currently 62,000 US military personnel in Afghanistan – about double the original contingent -and it is due to rise to 68,000 by the end of the year. But the growing US casualty rate is reducing domestic support back home. That support is not helped by the news that the election the troops were trying to secure continues to be in doubt. It is now claimed that at least 1.5 million ballot papers are suspect and that a third of all votes for President Hamid Karzai may be fraudulent. Karzai has dismissed the allegations as irresponsible and only a partial view of the situation. His rival, Abdullah Abdullah, continues to claim widespread ballot-rigging, especially in Karzai’s southern heartland.