More troops in Afghanistan?

Two things of note on Afghanistan recently:
1) Michael O’Hanlon has an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal arguing for a signifigant escalation in the US presence there.
2) CIA Director Hayden made a recent statement that Bin Laden is isolated_and_worried about his personal security. 

Yesterday, a segment of Al-Jazeera’s  “What’s Behind the News” focused ostensibly on Hayden’s comments, but more on Afghanistan in general.  One of the guests was the influential journalist Abdel Bari Atwan, editor of Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper and author of a book on Al-Qaeda.   Atwan dismissed Hayden’s statements asking “how would he know that?  If they actually knew this wouldn’t they have caught him so far?”   Atwan, like most if not all Arab intellectuals, has been arguing for months that the Afghanistan campaign is doomed and therefore escalation and sending more troops should be the absolute last thing the US should do.   

And there are many Americans saying the same thing.  Today, Robert Dreyfuss responds  to O’Hanlon op-ed, heavily criticizing him for giving Obama “bad advice.”

Sayyid Imam will speak

aka Dr Fadl’s book is finished and  will be exclusively printed in Egypt’s Al-Masri Al-Youm newspaper starting this week. 

According to Al-Masri Al-Youm, he will reveal new secrets about Jihad operations in Pakistan, Europe and Arab countries, but this seems more of an attempt (by the paper) to generate readership interest.  I’m more interested in his theological development: to what extent is he going to move further towards the Islamic center?  When he spoke last, his ideas were pretty rigid.  He was against the use of violence mostly because it would only lead to fowda or fitna, not because it was particularly wrong and at no point did he say that the government isn’t infidel. Its a question of whats the best way to deal with the situation (in his mind).  Has he gone beyond this simplistic cost-benefit analysis equation? 

The Islamic Group (Al-Gama’a AL-Islamiyya) is  substantially further along in their revisions process, and is on the verge of making the jump to the Islamic centralism espoused by Qaradawi and the Brotherhood, although they still have some ways to go.   Read Khali Anani’s excellent article on why they are not quite there yet.   As of last December, when he last spoke, Sayyid Imam was a long way behind the Islamic Group but we will soon find out to what extent he has closed the gap.