During today’s Pentagon daily briefing, spokesman Geoff Morrell disputed a reporter’s characterization of Afghanistan as “desperate.” Mocking the question, Morrell insisted there was nothing “urgent or precarious about the situation” there:
MORRELL: You characterize it as Afghanistan desperately needing more troops. I would take issue with the characterization that there’s anything desperate about the situation in Afghanistan, anything urgent or precarious about the situation in Afghanistan. What we have is a situation where the commanders would like additional forces, and we are working to provide them with the additional forces they would like.
Morrell didn’t just “take issue” with the reporter’s description; he was also disputing the view of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Adm. Michael Mullen. Just two weeks ago, in an interview with Jim Lehrer, Mullen declared that the situation in Afghanistan “is urgent”:
JIM LEHRER: With no — now, Afghanistan. Senator Obama has used the term that Afghanistan — the situation there is “precarious and urgent.” Do you share that?
ADM. MIKE MULLEN: I think it is. It is urgent. It is one where the violence is growing.
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Whether Afghanistan faces a precarious time is hardly up for dispute. In May, June, and July, coalition casualties in Afghanistan topped those in Iraq; so far more troops have been killed in August than in Iraq as well. Last month, Gen. David Petraeus warned that al Qaeda could start diverting resources from Iraq to Afghanistan.
Center for American Progress Senior Policy Analyst Caroline Wadhams wrote, “Until U.S. leadership turns its attention and resources to the Afghan theater and the region, it will continue to play defense against a strengthening enemy.”