A “debate” on Afghanistan?

Yesterday, the New York Times online service hosted a “debate” about U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, in response to the leaking of commanding general Stanley McChrystal’s memo stating that more troops were necessary to avoid defeat. Unfortunately, the six people they asked to debate the issue (Gretchen Peters, James Morin, Vanda Feldab-Brown, Frederick and Kimberly Kagan, ...

Walt-Steve-foreign-policy-columnist20
Walt-Steve-foreign-policy-columnist20
Stephen M. Walt
By , a columnist at Foreign Policy and the Robert and Renée Belfer professor of international relations at Harvard University.
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580680_090922_walt1b2.jpg

Yesterday, the New York Times online service hosted a "debate" about U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, in response to the leaking of commanding general Stanley McChrystal's memo stating that more troops were necessary to avoid defeat. Unfortunately, the six people they asked to debate the issue (Gretchen Peters, James Morin, Vanda Feldab-Brown, Frederick and Kimberly Kagan, and Kori Schake) all seemed to be open supporters of the U.S. military commitment there. So when asked "how should additional troops be deployed? What types of specialized personnel are needed now?" none of the Times's chosen panel responded by saying "more troops are not the answer." In short, the six panelists managed to avoid the real question that President Obama (and the nation) faces: should the United States increase its presence in the hopes of reversing the situation, or should it cut its losses and get out? Would it really have been so bad to have at least one genuine skeptic of the war included among the respondents?

Yesterday, the New York Times online service hosted a “debate” about U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, in response to the leaking of commanding general Stanley McChrystal’s memo stating that more troops were necessary to avoid defeat. Unfortunately, the six people they asked to debate the issue (Gretchen Peters, James Morin, Vanda Feldab-Brown, Frederick and Kimberly Kagan, and Kori Schake) all seemed to be open supporters of the U.S. military commitment there. So when asked “how should additional troops be deployed? What types of specialized personnel are needed now?” none of the Times‘s chosen panel responded by saying “more troops are not the answer.” In short, the six panelists managed to avoid the real question that President Obama (and the nation) faces: should the United States increase its presence in the hopes of reversing the situation, or should it cut its losses and get out? Would it really have been so bad to have at least one genuine skeptic of the war included among the respondents?

DAVID FURST/AFP/Getty Images

Stephen M. Walt is a columnist at Foreign Policy and the Robert and Renée Belfer professor of international relations at Harvard University. Twitter: @stephenwalt

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