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Levin Again Urges More Training of Afghans

September 12, 2009

Yesterday, the head of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Michigan Senator Carl Levin, again made a plea for increasing US funding for training Afghan soldiers. Last week Levin made a similar plea to the administration with the hopes of limiting growing US citizen concerns about the US occupation of Afghanistan.

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The Associated Press story that appeared in the GR Press quotes Levin as saying, “Our support of this surge of the Afghan security forces will show our commitment to the success of a mission that is clearly in our national security interests. But we would do so without creating a bigger U.S. military footprint, which provides propaganda fodder for the Taliban.” He added: “And we should implement these steps on an urgent basis, before we consider an increase in U.S. ground combat forces beyond what is already planned by the end of this year.”

The GR Press version of the story is much shorter than the original AP article and leaves out comments from both White House spokesperson Robert Gibbs and Republican Senator John McCain. Neither Gibbs nor McCain provide significantly different points of view, McCain agrees with the need to train more Afghanis, but also believes the US should not wait to send more ground troops.

The AP story frames Levin’s comments as a reaction to “mounting pressure on the White House to avoid escalating the war in Afghanistan,” but Levin is only suggesting a tactical shift not an anti-war position. Levin makes it clear in his statement that he wants the US mission in Afghanistan to succeed and that the mission’s success is “clearly in our national security interests.” The AP reporter does not challenge this premise nor ask the Senator to verify how the US occupation of Afghanistan is of nation security interest.

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Conn Hallinan, writing for Foreign Policy in Focus, recently wrote an excellent response to the current posturing on Afghanistan coming from the White House. Hallinan argues that the US occupation of Afghanistan is not a war of necessity to prevent terrorism, the US can not win a traditional counterinsurgency war in that country, the “Surge” in Iraq was not a success and therefore will not be in Afghanistan, and the NATO forces in Afghanistan are not acting in the same capacity as the British troops were in Iraq.

In addition, the other perspective that is omitted from this story is that of Afghanis. More and more Afghanis are saying that the main source of Taliban recruitment and instability in the country is the US occupation, a view that dissident parliamentarian Malalai Joy expresses in a new book.

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