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Gen. Stanley McChrystal is expected to ask President Barack Obama to send even more troops to Afghanistan, but it would be hard to justify doing so without some fundamental rethinking of what we're doing there, what we hope to accomplish and what kind of partnerships are possible with Afghan leaders.

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We have entered a new and deadly phase in the war there at the same time that United Nations monitors are reporting widespread fraud in the re-election effort of President Hamid Karzai and others report that official corruption is crippling the nation. After eight years there, our presence has failed to give root to a functioning democracy. Nor has it wiped out al-Qaeda; the terrorist group's top leaders have fled to Pakistan and other parts of the globe.

The point of an increase in troops, presumably, would be to stabilize the country to give local authorities time to establish control and for us to train local forces to keep the peace, all in the name of disrupting the terrorists who used Afghanistan as a base to plan the 9/11 attacks. Given the current state of affiars there, it's hard to imagine that will be possible. If the Pentagon and White House can't articulate a plausible set of benchmarks for using our military to create a more stable Afghanistan and to keep us safer, it's time not only to reject requests for a troop buildup but also to start planning to bring existing forces home.

(AP Photo)

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