To send more troops or not to send them: that is the Afghan question

That is the central question the NYT wants to answer in this article:

In deploying 68,000 American troops there by year’s end, President Obama has called Afghanistan “a war of necessity” to prevent the Taliban from recreating for Al Qaeda the sanctuary that the terrorist group had in the 1990s.
….In interviews, most counterterrorism experts said they believed the troops were needed to drive out Taliban fighters from territory they have steadily reclaimed in recent years. But critics on both the right and the left say that if the real goal is to prevent terrorist attacks on the United States, there may be alternatives to a large ground force in Afghanistan. They say Al Qaeda can be held at bay using intensive intelligence, Predator drones, cruise missiles, raids by Special Operations commandos, and even payments to warlords to deny haven to Al Qaeda.
…But most specialists on counterterrorism and counterinsurgency, both inside and outside the government, say the threat of terrorism cannot be confronted from a comfortable distance, such as by airstrikes or proxy forces alone. While it may take years to transform Afghanistan into a place that is hostile to Al Qaeda, they say, it may be the only way to keep the United States safe in the long term. Many agree with the classified strategy for a troop buildup that Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top commander in Afghanistan, has presented to Mr. Obama and the Joint Chiefs of Staff in recent days. 

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