Obama gets request for more troops

October 7, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
The formal request by the nation's top Afghanistan commander for more troops is now in President Barack Obama's hands, administration officials said Wednesday as the war launched after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks reached its eight-year mark with no end in sight.

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When he was running for president, Barack Obama called Afghanistan a war of necessity. Now he's being asked by the military to up the ante as opposition to the war increases.

In Afghanistan, the once defeated Taliban are gaining ground. The risk of losing this war is what is driving top commander Stanley McChrystal to ask for up to 40,000 more service members.

The White House admitted the president got the request last week and since then has been meeting with lawmakers and military leaders before making a decision.

"It's one the president takes seriously, and one the president is going to use his time to get right," said White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs.

In Washington, Oakland Representative Barbara Lee is trying to stop a troop buildup in Afghanistan.

Lee has been joined by three other Bay Area members of Congress in sponsoring a bill that would prohibit funding for a troop increase.

"We've been there for the last eight years, it's only getting worse. There's no military solution in Afghanistan and I'm very pleased the president is currently looking at all options," said Rep. Lee.

But a San Jose woman whose daughter is serving in Afghanistan says Congresswoman Lee is wrong.

"My feeling is that we should support them in any way that we can," said Pat Giorgano from San Jose.

Giordano's son did two tours in Afghanistan. She believes Afghanistan can be stabilized and the Taliban defeated.

Some experts agree.

"It's not as bad as Iraq was at its worst and there's a good chance that it won't get that bad," said San Francisco State University Professor Sanjoy Banerjee, PhD.

Professor Banerjee specializes in Afghanistan. He says the goals should be protecting Afghan civilians, building up the afghan army and get cooperation from Pakistan.

"I think the fears the Bay Area Democrats are expressing are within reason given the historical experience of the United States itself and the history of Afghanistan. But the downside risk here is quite substantial," he said.

The downside risk Professor Banerjee is talking about is of course that extremists take over Afghanistan, destabilize Pakistan and somehow get their hands on one or more of Pakistan's nuclear weapons.

Protesters in San Francisco called for American troops to be immediately withdrawn from the country.

So far, the war in Afghanistan has cost nearly 800 American lives.

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