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Regain Power

July 17, 2008

It has been a "tough month" for U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, as President Bush admitted recently. That should prompt U.S. officials to revisit military strategy for that region of the campaign against terrorism.

Thirty-two U.S. and other coalition troops were killed in Afghanistan during June - more than the number who died in Iraq.

As we have speculated, increased attacks by Taliban and al-Qaida forces in Afghanistan may be part of a terrorist strategy to affect U.S. public opinion in advance of the November elections. An increase in the number of Americans killed could prompt U.S. voters to support candidates for president and Congress who would be more likely to end U.S. presence in Afghanistan and Iraq, the terrorists may hope.

Whatever the reason for stepped-up activity in and around Afghanistan, it is claiming more U.S. and coalition troops than in the past. The Taliban and al-Qaida clearly have more muscle than coalition officials had thought.

Our strategy in Afghanistan, invaded by U.S. and other coalition troops in late 2001, has seemed to be a shining success. But the resurgence in terrorist activity is troubling because it indicates that the Taliban and al-Qaida have not been wiped out in that region.

In fact, they may have simply withdrawn from battle in order to regroup.

For some time, a flawed strategy was pursued in Iraq. Once it was changed - in large measure, it should be noted, because of pressure from Sen. John McCain - more successes were scored. U.S. officials should consider carefully whether a similar change in strategy is needed in Afghanistan.

If so, it should be devised and implemented as soon as possible. If that requires more coalition troops, they should be provided. The Taliban and al-Qaida simply cannot be permitted to regain their power.



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