Afghanistan: Should Obama wait?

Hamid Karzai agrees to a run-off, removing an obstacle to Obama's decision on sending more troops

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has agreed to a run-off election on Nov. 7 with his top challenger, former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah. Karzai faced international pressure to accept election monitors' conclusion that he hadn't won a majority in the first round. The White House said President Obama wouldn't decide whether to send more troops until it was clear the Afghan government was a "credible" partner. Should Obama wait to see what happens in the runoff?

Obama should wait: Afghanistan's election crisis isn't over yet, said The Boston Globe in an editorial. There has to be an honest government in Kabul "to have any hope of saving Afghanistan from another Taliban takeover." So it's wise for President Obama to hold off on deciding to send another 40,000 soldiers until it's "clear what kind of government will emerge" from the "fraud-skewered presidential election."

End Afghan election crisis first

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Delay could be dangerous: Many in the military are already worried "the president is moving too slowly," said Elisabeth Bumiller in The New York Times. Frustration is rising because many active duty and retired officers say extremists have been emboldened by the delay, and if Afghanistan blows up it could be too late. The administration seems determined to hold back, though, on the logic that it would be "reckless to rush a decision" without a clear partner in Kabul.

As the Commander in Chief deliberates, frustration builds within the ranks

The time for a surge is now: Obama knows everything he needs to know, said Stephen Biddle in The New Republic. Gen. Stanley McChrystal's integrated counterinsurgency, or COIN, calls for more American troops and a doubling of the Afghan military and police force to 400,000. It's a big commitment, but there is no "middle way" that offers the same chance of success without much greater cost.

Is there a middle way?

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