The Afghanistan Weekly Reader

Here are the top stories about Afghanistan that we were reading this week.

New Gallup Poll Echoes Our Tea Party Survey: 72% of Americans Want Congress to Reduce Afghan Troop Presence Faster

Afghanistan Study Group by Will Thomas
A USA Today / Gallup poll from January found that 72% of Americans favor Congressional action this year to speed up the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. The party breakdown of the poll showed that 86% of Democrats, 72% of independents, and 61% of Republicans would support a move by Congress to speed the withdrawal.

These results echo the findings of the Afghanistan Study Group’s poll, which found that 66% of conservatives overall and 64% of self-identified Tea Party supporters believed that the US could dramatically lower the number of troops and funds spent in Afghanistan without putting America at risk.

John Kerry Seeks a “Tweak” In Current Afghan War Strategy

Huffington Post by Amanda Terkel
WASHINGTON — One of the Obama administration’s key allies in Congress, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.), is calling for a “tweak” in the current Afghanistan war strategy, including a reduction in the number of U.S. troops. The development, coming from someone who was once a strong backer of Obama’s decision to increase troops in Afghanistan, could shift the administration’s strategy in the war.

Afghanistan War: What is it Good For?

The Nation by Katrina Vanden Heuvel
The War in Afghanistan is the longest in US history and the most expensive, at $1 million per soldier and over $100 billion annually. There have been over 2,300 US and coalition casualties, and tens of thousands of Afghan civilian deaths. Nearly 600 US troops are wounded every month. So it comes as little surprise that opposition to the war is growing: 51 percent of Americans now think the US should not be involved in Afghanistan; a stunning 72 percent—including 61 percent of Republicans—favor Congressional action this year to speed up the withdrawal of troops.

N.Y.U. Report Casts Doubt on Taliban’s Ties With Al Qaeda

The New York Times by Carlotta Gall
KABUL, Afghanistan — The Afghan Taliban have been wrongly perceived as close ideological allies of Al Qaeda, and they could be persuaded to renounce the global terrorist group, according to a report to be published Monday by New York University.  The report goes on to say that there was substantial friction between the groups’ leaders before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and that hostility has only intensified.

Petraeus Warns of Bloody Spring in Afghanistan

CBS News by Mandy Clark
General David Petraeus, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, says he is excepting a brutal fight in the spring when Taliban insurgents try to return from their winter safe havens to areas already cleared by the international forces. “When you have 110,000 more of us than we had a year ago, we’re obviously in many, many more places,” he said in an interview with NATO TV. “We have taken away areas that matter to the Taliban and they have to fight back.”

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