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Khazei Stakes The Race On Afghanistan

Alan Khazei is staking the race on Afghanistan. He's proposing that the U.S. draw down the number of troops there, and that Afghan troops take over counterinsurgency operations.

"We've lost our way", Khazei told an audience at Harvard University, "strayed from our mission, and now we're asking our troops to build a nation in a place that is laden with corruption and has never had a strong central government. This isn't in our interest as a nation, and it's not fair to our troops."

As the campaign has evolved, so has Khazei's position. Last month, he would only say that he was not ready to support a troop increase in Afghanistan. Khazei's position now seems to be more definitive that the positions we've heard so far from two of his rivals, Attorney General Martha Coakley and venture capitalist Steve Pagliuca. Neither has gone so far to say that the U.S. should begin pulling troops out. In fact, they pretty much have shied away from the issue.

At the Kennedy Library last month, Pagliuca said:

At this point in time, I would not put more troops in Afghanistan. We've not been successful in our counterinsurgency strategies since World War Two. It's very difficult for our troops. It puts them in harm's way.

Martha Coakley said:

We'd better make sure that we have a mission, that we can accomplish that mission, that we have an exit strategy, so I'm against more troops right now.

Congressman Mike Capuano and Khazei have gone out of their way to talk about what the U.S. should do in Afghanistan.

"A lot of people inside my campaign said: 'Why are you spending so much time on this'", Khazei told the Harvard audience. "Because it's the most important thing that's going on in our country right now. This is war and peace. People are dying."

Like Khazei, Capuano supports a withdrawal of troops.

"This is not a place that a military solution is doable," Capuano said at the Kennedy Library last month. "The English couldn't do it. The Russians couldn't do it. Alexander the Great couldn't do it. We can't do it. More importantly, we shouldn't do it. We need to leave."

This program aired on November 16, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.

Fred Thys Twitter Reporter
Fred Thys reports on politics and higher education for WBUR.

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