Ahead of today's meeting of Obama's national security team to discuss Afghan war strategy, Karl Eikenberry, the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan and a member of the war council, sent a pair of classified cables to Washington expressing deep reservations about the possibility of sending more U.S. troops to the country, the Washington Post reported on Wednesday.
Eikenberry's concerns about the deployment of more troops centered around Afghan President Hamid Karzai's unwillingness to clamp down on rampant corruption throughout the country, a situation that has helped the Taliban re-establish itself there, the Post states. Eikenberry's memos were skeptical of plans to send more troops until Karzai's government steps up its efforts to root out corruption.
But Karzai''s corruption is not the only thing keeping the Taliban in business, according to an explosive new story by reporter Aram Roston for The Nation, which alleges that hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. military funds are making their way to Afghan insurgents, including the Taliban. Roston reports that the U.S. is paying off insurgents to persuade them from attacking U.S. supply lines.
In this grotesque carnival, the US military's contractors are forced to pay suspected insurgents to protect American supply routes. It is an accepted fact of the military logistics operation in Afghanistan that the US government funds the very forces American troops are fighting. And it is a deadly irony, because these funds add up to a huge amount of money for the Taliban. "It's a big part of their income," one of the top Afghan government security officials told The Nation in an interview. In fact, US military officials in Kabul estimate that a minimum of 10 percent of the Pentagon's logistics contracts--hundreds of millions of dollars--consists of payments to insurgents.
Read more from the Nation.
As reported earlier today, four troop options were scheduled to be reviewed at today's meeting, with numbers ranging from 10,000 to 40,000 more troops. As the New York Times reported this morning, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are said to be leaning toward an option of around 30,000 troops.