Afghan Taliban Have Momentum: Gates

Defense sec says US has months before support wanes
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted May 26, 2009 8:17 AM CDT
Defense Secretary Robert Gates testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, May 20, 2009.   (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)
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(Newser) – The Taliban have the momentum in the war in Afghanistan and the US is rapidly losing time to turn it around before public support runs out, Robert Gates tells the Wall Street Journal. The defense secretary said in an interview that American support for the war will recede unless the Obama administration can beat back the insurgency within the coming months. "If they think we're stalemated," Gates said, "then patience is going to run out pretty fast."

Gates has made a substantial effort to redeem American efforts in Afghanistan, deploying 21,000 more personnel and firing a four-star commander. Although a Bush appointee, he sided with Obama by supporting the closure of Guantanamo and banning harsh interrogation methods. "Having been in this business a long time," the secretary said, "I think that you never can underestimate the power of American values."