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British Prime Minister Gordon Brown publicly demanded Friday that the Afghan government rein in corruption, saying he is "not prepared to put the lives of British men and women in harm's way for a government that does not stand up against corruption." He insisted that the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai demonstrate clear progress in five areas: security, governance, reconciliation, economic development, and engagement with Afghanistan's neighbors. If Mr. Karzai's government fails, Mr. Brown said, it will have "forfeited its right to international support."
There have been hints in recent days that President Barack Obama is delivering a similar message and similar demands in the closed-door world of diplomacy, but making such a public statement — and setting out benchmarks for Afghanistan to achieve — packs more force and is the kind of thing we need to see from the Obama administration if it is going to ask us to support sending thousands more troops to such a vexing war.