The last time the Obama administration arrived at a moment of truth in the debate over what to do about Afghanistan, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Robert M. Gates delivered a one-two punch in favor of a more ambitious approach.
Now, as President Obama leads yet another debate on whether to deploy tens of thousands of additional troops there, the secretary of state and the secretary of defense will once again constitute a critical voting bloc, the likely leaders of an argument for a middle ground between a huge influx of soldiers and a narrow focus aimed at killing terrorists from Al Qaeda, according to several administration officials.
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