Anti-War Group Asks Obama: Are More Troops in Afghanistan ‘Digging an Even Bigger Hole’?

As the Los Angeles Timesreport yesterday observing liberals’ frustration with President Obama echoes elsewhere in the mainstream media, it’s worth noting that some groups on the left are maintaining a healthy independence from the administration.

One good example: Obama announced today that he will send upwards of 10,000 troops to Afghanistan before the conclusion of his internal strategy review on the state of the so-called “forgotten war” in South Asia.

Former Maine Democratic congressman Tom Andrews, now the chair of the Win Without War coalition, thoughtfully asked Obama today to consider whether adding more troops amounts to “digging an even bigger hole” in Afghanistan despite diplomatic urging to reconsider a military escalation. Here’s Andrews’ statement in full (followed by Obama’s statement on the troop increase):

Clearly, U.S. policy in Afghanistan has failed, as numerous reports point to security conditions that have gone from bad to worse. That is why we applaud the president’s decision to conduct a fundamental review of U.S. policy in Afghanistan. But it is also why we are concerned that the deployment of additional combat troops is being announced at the outset of the review process and not at its conclusion.

The risks are significant–particularly in light of the warnings of several analysts that the presence of foreign soldiers fighting a war in Afghanistan is probably the single most important driving force in the resurgence of the Taliban. Reducing our military footprint could, therefore, be one of the most effective measures that can be taken to weaken the armed opposition.

We hope that the president will soon provide the nation with a comprehensive plan for Afghanistan and the region that is fundamentally different from the approach which led us to where we find ourselves now.

The first principle for someone who finds himself in a hole is to stop digging. The US policy ‘hole’ in Afghanistan is not of the new administration’s making. But it is important for the president to consider if adding new U.S. combat forces in Afghanistan, without a new and comprehensive plan for U.S. policy there, might be digging an even bigger hole.

Obama’s official statement on Afghanistan today:

This reinforcement will contribute to the security of the Afghan people and to stability in Afghanistan. I recognize the extraordinary strain that this deployment places on our troops and military families. I honor their service, and will give them the support they need.

This increase is necessary to stabilize a deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, which has not received the strategic attention, direction and resources it urgently requires. That is why I ordered a review of our policy upon taking office, so we have a comprehensive strategy and the necessary resources to meet clear and achievable objectives in Afghanistan and the region. This troop increase does not pre-determine the outcome of that strategic review. Instead, it will further enable our team to put together a comprehensive strategy that will employ all elements of our national power to fulfill achievable goals in Afghanistan. As we develop our new strategic goals, we will do so in concert with our friends and allies as together we seek the resources necessary to succeed.