On the eighth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, leading Democrats urged President Obama to resist military requests for more combat troops to finish the task of denying al-Qaeda a safe haven in Afghanistan. US forces should focus instead on training and expanding the Afghan Army, said Carl Levin, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, in a speech yesterday after a similar warning from Nancy Pelosi, the most powerful Democrat in the House of Representatives. I dont think there is a great deal of support for sending more troops to Afghanistan in the country or in Congress, she said. After eight years of hunting terrorists and waging a costly counter-insurgency campaign against their protectors, the Pentagon accepts that the nation and many of its troops are war-weary and doubtful that US military goals in Afghanistan are achievable. Senator Levins remarks on Americas most solemn anniversary were designed to reflect this shift in the publics view of a war hitherto seen overwhelmingly as vital for US security. I just think we should hold off on a commitment to send more combat troops until these additional steps to strengthen the Afghan security forces are put in motion, he told The New York Times before his speech. General Stanley McChrystal, the US and Nato commander in Kabul, is expected to follow a recent report to the Pentagon on the deteriorating Afghan security situation with requests for reinforcements. His report did not contain specific numbers but estimates range from 14,000 to 45,000 extra troops. One Pentagon source told The Times this week that conceivably, many more troops would be sent to the region in addition to the 21,000 US reinforcements already on their way. Youre going to see more intense fighting and more casualties. This is in some ways make or break time. Richard Holbrooke, the US special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, also warned yesterday that long delays in resolving allegations of ballot stuffing in Afghanistans August 20 election would leave a political vacuum that would help the Taleban and al-Qaeda. The beneficiary of that would be the Taleban and al-Qaeda, and I need to underscore that . . . the beneficiary of any delays of the sort youre talking about would be the Taleban and al-Qaeda, and everybody understands that, he told the BBC. The US State Department said that it could take months to determine the results and inquire into the alleged irregularities. (The Times)