Afghanistan burden wearing down U.S. Afghanistan burden wearing down U.S. by Staff Writers Kabul, Afghanistan (UPI) Sep 15, 2009 The deaths of four U.S. soldiers last Saturday in a spate of militant attacks that also killed dozens of Afghan security forces and civilians happened a day after Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, told the U.S. Senate the training of Afghanistan's own forces should be stepped up before committing additional U.S. troops in that country. Such a strategy "will show our commitment to the success of mission that is clearly in our national security interests, without creating a bigger U.S. military footprint that provides propaganda fodder for the Taliban," the influential Michigan Democrat, who recently returned from a trip to Afghanistan, was quoted as saying. Sobering words that point to the prevailing mood about Afghanistan within President Barack Obama's own party which, as noted by The New York Times, the president would need to consider when deciding whether to send more troops to that country in addition to the 68,000 already committed. Earlier in the week, another influential Democrat, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, was quoted as saying she did not think "there is a great deal of support for sending more troops to Afghanistan in the country or in Congress." Separately, the Voice of America reported on a finding last week by a London policy institute that the Taliban's activity has spread to 80 percent of Afghanistan, just eight years after its regime was destroyed. The finding should come as no surprise, with U.S. commanders having acknowledged the Afghan ground situation has deteriorated. Adding to U.S. concerns is the unresolved issue of the Afghan elections, whose outcome is mired in serious voter fraud complaints, with thousands of questionable votes already set aside by the U.N.-backed Electoral Complaints Commission. Though preliminary results show President Hamid Karzai with a huge lead in his bid for a second term, it is the Complaints Commission, made up of Afghans and foreigners, that is the final arbiter and not Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission, which is battling its own allegations. But the Complaints Commission's work may take weeks or months to complete as all the hundreds of serious complaints must first be resolved before it certifies the election results, as that could affect the final outcome. But any delay would leave the already fractured country without an effective government, giving more fodder to the Taliban to claim vindication of its opposition to foreign presence as also the elections. Britain's Daily Telegraph reported U.S. officials were frantically trying to get Karzai to agree to a power-sharing deal with his nearest poll rival, Abdullah Abdullah, to avert such a situation. But such an arrangement could set off another set of problems. Britain's Guardian reported these developments can only raise the stakes for the United States and Britain, where popular support is dwindling fast for a war seen only as favoring a corrupt and ineffective regime at untold cost both in terms of men and resources to the United States and its allies. The months of July and August were the bloodiest for U.S. forces with more than 90 dead, not counting the September casualties. The situation is no better for Britain, which has lost more than 200 of its soldiers since 2001. Some experts have even begun drawing comparisons between the Afghanistan situation and the Vietnam War, the VOA reported. But those who disagree say there are major differences with Afghanistan being far more ethnically diverse with deep tribal links. They say the goal of the Afghan war is to prevent the Taliban and al-Qaida from securing a home base, whereas in Vietnam the objective was to stop a communist-backed insurgency. U.S. troop strength in Afghanistan is also far below the peak reached in Vietnam. Despite the rising burden of Afghanistan, commentators like Newsweek International Editor Fareed Zakaria argue against a withdrawal. In his recent column in the news magazine, Zakaria wrote, "The United States, NATO, the European Union, and other nations have invested massively in stabilizing the country over the past eight years" and a withdrawal would only bring back the region's players, resulting in the "revival of the poisonous alliance between the Pakistani military and the hardest-line elements of the Taliban."