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11 Oct, 2009 05:30

Afghan debate overshadows Obama’s Peace Prize

The debate over whether or not Barack Obama deserved the Nobel Peace Prize is rumbling on. Critics say it was inappropriate since the US president is considering deploying more troops to one of America's foreign wars.

Throughout 2009, Afghanistan looked like an authentic war zone: bullets fired, IED’s exploding and an increasing number of US soldiers killed each day.

On the streets of the US capital, more than ever a great debate is taking place on whether to continue with the war or bring the troops home. Activists from both sides have voiced their beliefs.

“You’ve got to get your troops out of Afghanistan,” asserted Ken Mayers, a Vietnam War veteran.

Cindy, who supports the Afghan war, however, takes a different stance:

“Well, I feel that the military who are over there know what we need and so I would be supportive of what they recommended,” she explained.

But the greater part of the debate is taking place within the walls of the White House. While General Stanley McChrystal wants to deploy 40,000 more troops to Afghanistan, the reality may mean multiplying that number by ten:

“I’m recommending a total of 400,000 people between the army and the police,” McChrystal said.

In this case, he’s factoring in not only us troops, but also the Afghan army and police force

Capitol Hill is also divided: the Republicans seem eager to see more boots on the ground.

“I’m convinced that McChrystal’s analysis is not only correct, but should be employed as quickly as possible,” John McCain, the Republican senator for Arizona said.

Democrats, on the other hand, want to figure out how to win before they accept McChrystal’s request, employing a frame of mind which Harry Reid described as “strategy before resources”.

Ultimately, however, the decision is up to the commander- in-chief, Barack Obama. Foreign affairs experts say he will most likely split the difference: send only a few thousand troops to train the afghan army.

Washington insider and columnist, Tony Blankley believes that searching for a middle ground may just drive the war effort further into the ground:

“The key question is will he make a decision to commit?” he asked.

“I want to make sure our troops are going to be used in a cause that the commander-in-chief is prepared to be committed to. Not sort of ‘half use’, lose men unnecessarily and then just give up. That’s the big question,” he added.

The other big question is: what exactly are those 68,000 American troops currently doing on the ground?

Malou Innocent from the CATO Institute explains:

“We’ve gone from targeting Al Qaeda to essentially a guerilla Jihadi group indigenous to this region, and I fear that in the medium and long term the US will be exacerbating the regional instability we see there.”

In the same week that Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, he is having yet more meetings in the White House about strategy in Afghanistan.

Though no final decision has been made, the clock is ticking and more and more Americans are questioning the very purpose of the war. And, as violence increases, it seems that no decision Obama makes will be truly peaceful.