17,000 troops to Afghanistan "a graveyard of empires".

The United States is planning to send an additional 17,000 troops to one of the world's most battle-scarred nations - Afghanistan - long described as "a graveyard of empires".

First, it was the British Empire, and then the Soviet Union. So, will the United States be far behind?

"With his new order on Afghanistan, President (Barack) Obama has given substantial ground to what Martin Luther King Jr., in 1967 called 'the madness of militarism'", Norman Solomon, executive director of the Washington-based Institute for Public Accuracy, told IPS.

The proposed surge in U.S. troops will bring the total to 60,000, while the combined forces from the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), including troops from Germany, Canada, Britain and the Netherlands, amount to over 32,000.

In a TV interview Tuesday, Obama said he was "absolutely convinced that you cannot solve the problem of Afghanistan, the Taliban (insurgency), the spread extremism in that region solely through military means."

"If there is no military solution, why is the administration's first set of decisions to continue drone attacks and increase ground troops?" Marilyn B. Young, a professor of history at New York University , told IPS. "This is one of the ways events seem to echo U.S. escalation in the Vietnam War," said Young, author of several publications, including 'Iraq and the Lessons of Vietnam: Or, How Not to Learn From the Past'.

Most political analysts point out that Afghanistan may turn out to be a bigger military quagmire for U.S. forces than Iraq.

[Excerpt of article by Thalif Deen, IPS]

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