Yesterday President Barack Obama approved the deployment of 17,000 United States troops to Afghanistan, AFP reports. The move led to responses from across the international community.
From a CNN report, Obama explains his decision for the troop increase:
"This increase is necessary to stabilize a deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, which has not received the strategic attention, direction and resources it urgently requires," Obama said in a written statement.
"The Taliban is resurgent in Afghanistan, and al Qaeda supports the insurgency and threatens America from its safe haven along the Pakistani border."
In Afghanistan, President Obama's decision is seen as a "positive development" by the government and one that President Karzai is hailing as a new phase in his relations with the United States, BBC explains:
Afghan President Hamid Karzai is turning a new page in relations with the US, his spokesman has said.
"Mr Obama spoke with the president about various issues including steps for improving security in the region, equipment and training of the national army, further strengthening of bilateral relations, and the increase of forces was also discussed," Afghan presidential spokesman Humayun Hamidzada said.
"We have opened a new page."
The Sydney Morning Herald looks at how this move will affect America's allies.
The move is likely to increase pressure on all nations participating in the multinational force, including Australia, although the main pressure is likely to be exerted on several European nations that provide troops but with restrictions on their taking part in combat duties.
The demand for more troops will reach a head when NATO meets to discuss progress in April.
An analysis by Jordanian writer Osama Al Sharif in Arab News questions whether any of Obama's options for fighting the war in Afghanistan will be successful.
For now the Obama administration will conduct a major review of its policy in Afghanistan. But such review might not come up with satisfactory answers. There is no simple way out of the current crisis. Karzai is not easily replaced and Pakistan is far more complicated than anyone can fathom. The country's fragile democracy may ultimately play into the hands of America's foes. On top of all this there is the tension between Pakistan and India, two nuclear powers, which could deteriorate at any moment.
In the end Obama will have to deal with the legacy that was left by the Bush administration. The mismanagement of Afghanistan may prove to be an irreparable mistake. As Holbrooke and his team look into available options it would be wise to remember that on the 20th anniversary of the departure of the last Soviet soldier from Afghanistan, this ancient country of complex anachronisms may in fact present a dilemma that can never be surmounted.
Time Magazine commented on President Obama's confident move to increase the military presence:
Hardly an auspicious moment, then, for Obama to put his stamp on the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan, but a commander-in-chief doesn't always have the luxury of choice. As a senator, Obama had criticized the "surge" of nearly 30,000 additional U.S. troops into Iraq two years ago. Now, as commander in chief, he has begun ordering what may turn out to be a similar increase into Afghanistan. Of course, he had maintained on the campaign trail that Afghanistan, not Iraq, was the "right" place to wage war on terror, but his strategy review reflects the fact that many have begun to question the goals and focus of the U.S. mission there.
Obama began his terse statement Tuesday by acknowledging that "there is no more solemn duty as President than the decision to deploy our armed forces into harm's way." He has been personally writing letters to the families of each U.S. soldier killed in Afghanistan and Iraq, hand signing them "Barack." Such letters no doubt will become more difficult to write in the months ahead, when the casualties begin to include some of those he ordered into combat.
Juan Cole, President of the Global Americana Institute, commented on his blog:
What we saw in Iraq was that the sheer number of troops did not matter so much as how they are deployed and for what purpose. I hope that these troops are used well.
For information on progress and security in Afghanistan, check out the Brookings Institution's Afghanistan Index. Here is a chart showing the increase in insurgent attacks over the last two years:
COMPARISON OF INSURGENT ATTACKS CARRIED OUT BY TALIBAN/ANTI-GOVERNMENT
ENTITIES (TB/AGE), WEEKS 1-39 (JANUARY THRU LATE SEPTEMBER), 2007 AND 2008
(Blue = 2007, Pink = 2008)
And here is a video of American soldiers and citizens reacting to the troop announcement.