Candidates debate Afghanistan strategy

    Pennsylvania’s two Democratic Senate candidates have different opinions on whether more troops are needed in Afghanistan.

    Pennsylvania’s two Democratic Senate candidates have different opinions on whether more troops are needed in Afghanistan.

    Listen:
    [audio: 091130sdafghan.mp3]

    Senator Arlen Specter says he opposes sending 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, unless their mission is “indispensable in [the] fight against al Qaeda.”

    Challenger Joe Sestak supports the increase, as long as it’s accompanied by clear goals and benchmarks, but both men agree that U.S. forces should be focused on disrupting terror networks, rather than rebuilding the country.

    Specter says American troops shouldn’t spend resources propping up Hamid Karzai’s government, which he calls unreliable.

    Specter: We don’t want to fight a war against the Taliban. That’s not in the US national interest. Al Qaeda, yes, but if al Qaeda can organize elsewhere, then I’m opposed to sending more troops to Afghanistan.

    Sestak says he’s also lost faith in the Karzai government, and wants to see U.S. officials build more partnerships with regional tribal leaders.

    Both men are calling for an increased focus on Pakistan.

    President Obama will announce his new Afghanistan strategy tonight.

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