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The Democratic Senate Hopefuls On Afghanistan

  Finally, there's a substantive issue on which to differentiate the democratic primary candidates for Illinois' U.S. Senate seat:  Where do the four contenders stand on President Barack Obama's plan to increase by 30,000 the number of U.S. forces in Afghanistan?

  At a news conference 36 hours before Obama's Wednesday night speech, Cheryle Robinson Jackson repeated her opposition to Obama's "surge" strategy.  Not only is the former Chicago Urban League president against sending more troops to Afghanistan, she wants those already there brought home.  Jackson called the regime in Kabul "corrupt" and says American taxpayer money used to wage the Afghan war would be better spent creating jobs in the U.S..

  The presumed frontrunner in the primary campaign, Illinois Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, supports the President.  "We are dealing with perhaps the most complex, dangerous region in the world - a region from which the attacks of September 11th were launched, and where nuclear weapons could fall into the hands of fanatics and terrorists", wrote Giannoulias. 

   Chicago attorney Jacob Meister remained "steadfast" in his support for Obama and "commended the President for his careful consideration of all the strategies that could be pursued in Afghanistan."  

   Finally, former Chicago Inspector General David Hoffman writes on his website that he is "skeptical" about more troops to shore up the Karzai government when there are serious doubts about the recent Afghan elections and the validity of the regime in Kabul.  He worries about the increased risk of substantial American casualties while not calling for the removal of U.S. forces already there.  Hoffman writes that he "still needs to be convinced in order to support this plan", while not rejecting it outright.




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