As 18 to 21-year-old students on the Fairfield campus stress over finals and worry about the threat of swine flu, many men and women of the same age are camped out in the Afghanistan desert with much greater fears.

Instead of worrying about an upcoming marketing final, those soldiers are worrying whether or not an IED will blow up under their truck, taking their life and the lives of the friends around them.

And now, in what could be the riskiest maneuver of President Barack Obama’s presidency, 30,000 more troops, including many that share the same birth years as Fairfield students, will be sent to Afghanistan in an effort to make the situation there “sustainable.”

Obama said in his speech at West Point on Tuesday night, “And our forces lack the full support they need to effectively train and partner with Afghan security forces and better secure the population …In short, the status quo is not sustainable.”

It may not be Obama’s fault that the United States is embroiled in what appears to be a lose-lose conflict in Afghanistan, but he ran for the presidency on a campaign of peace, promising to withdraw troops from the Middle East in a timely manner. While that remains possible, this latest move by the Obama administration has left many pundits scratching their heads and ironically comes shortly before the President travels to Copenhagen to accept the Nobel Peace Prize.

However, Obama’s goals for the additional troops are respectable, to deny Al Qaeda a safe haven, to reverse the momentum that the Taliban has gained in an attempt to overthrow the new Afghanistan government
and to strengthen the security forces and government of the fledgling democracy.

The problem remains that there does not appear to be a positive end game for Afghanistan. It is a country
that has dealt with centuries of unrest and is made up of various tribes not meant to govern as one nation.

The leadership of Afghanistan has been shaky at best. President Hamid Karzai’s brother has been implicated
in a drug ring and multiple advisors of Karzai have been accused of corruption. Many have said that with the current regime, a true democracy will never be reached.

Because of the drawn out nature of the war, which Obama now says will last until 2011, many have made connections to the Vietnam War. But Obama was quick to dismiss those notions in his Tuesday night speech.

“Unlike Vietnam, we are joined by a broad coalition of 43 nations that recognizes the legitimacy of our action,” Obama said. “Unlike Vietnam, we are not facing a broad-based popular insurgency.” The problems of the Vietnam War still remain. The war has been fought for eight years already and Obama has inserted more troops into it, like former President Lyndon B. Johnson did in 1965.

The addition of more troops could lead to stability in Afghanistan, but likely it will just mean that more young
American lives will be at risk.

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