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Clinton rebuffs warning on Afghanistan

NEW YORK, Sept 22 – US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the US effort in Afghanistan was being reviewed without "any ideological presuppositions" despite the top US commander’s warning of a looming loss.

In an interview with PBS television late Monday, Clinton expressed "respect" for General Stanley McChrystal’s assessment that the United States would likely lose the war in Afghanistan within a year without more troops.

"But I can only tell you there are other assessments from very expert military analysts who have worked in counterinsurgencies that are the exact opposite," she said.

"So what our goal is, is to take all of this incoming data and sort it out. And I don’t think anybody is going to push to a conclusion for the sake of a conclusion," she said.

"So we have to be really clear-eyed about this. And what I’m very grateful for is that we’re not coming in with any ideological presuppositions," she said.

McChrystal’s assessment, which was leaked to the Washington Post, has put President Barack Obama in a difficult spot at a time of sliding support for the war both among the public and Democrats in Congress.

Clinton’s comments pointed up a growing rift between the administration and the military.

McChrystal said a new strategy was needed, and warned that "inadequate resources will likely result in failure.

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"Failure to gain the initiative and reverse insurgent momentum in the near-term (next 12 months) — while Afghan security capacity matures — risks an outcome where defeating the insurgency is no longer possible," he wrote.

The report was presented to Defense Secretary Robert Gates on August 30 and is being reviewed by the White House, with McChrystal widely expected to make a formal request to increase the 62,000-strong US force.

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