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Thread: Afghan Plan Faces Sharp Questioning

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    Afghan Plan Faces Sharp Questioning

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/03/wo...y.html?_r=1&hp

    Defense secretary Robert M. Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and the nation’s top military officer laid out a muscular defense of President Obama’s decision to send 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan on Captiol Hill on Wednesday, but members of Congress of both parties objected to major parts of the new strategy.

    At a crowded hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican who last year ran against Mr. Obama for president, sharply questioned Mr. Obama’s plan to begin withdrawing the additional American forces by July 2011.

    Senator McCain said it was “logically incoherent” to say that the withdrawal would begin that summer, “no matter what,” but also say, as the administration does, that the exit date would also depend on conditions on the ground.

    The answer, after a sometimes tense back-and-forth with Mr. Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was that the administration would review the situation in Afghanistan in December 2010 and then “evaluate,” as Mr. Gates put it, whether it would be possible for Mr. Obama to begin withdrawals in the summer of 2011.

    “Then it makes no sense for him to announce the date,” Mr. McCain retorted. In short, he said, “that gives the wrong impression to our friends, it’s the wrong impression to give our enemies.”

    Later in the session, Senator Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island, said, “It strikes me as that the Taliban has been emboldened quite aggressively the last several years without any type of deadline.”

    Senator Carl Levin, the Michigan Democrat who is chairman of the committee, questioned whether sending so many additional troops might keep the Afghans from building up their security forces on their own.

    “Where I have questions is whether the rapid deployment of a large number of U.S. combat forces, without an adequate number of Afghan security forces for our troops to partner with, serves that mission,” Mr. Levin said.

    In his opening statement, Mr. Gates, who pushed for the 30,000 additional troops and was singled out by the White House as influential in Mr. Obama’s decision, sharply differed with some of Mr. Obama’s advisers who have argued that the United States should focus on rooting out Al Qaeda from Pakistan, and that the Taliban in Afghanistan do not present a serious long-term threat to the national security of the United States.

    Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, the Connecticut independent who heads the Senate’s homeland security committee, said he was convinced that “there is no substitute for victory over the Islamist extremists and terrorists in Afghanistan. A war of necessity must not just be fought; it must, of necessity, be won.”

    Mr. Levin said he was troubled by the numbers being floated. In the vitally important Helmand Province, in southern Afghanistan, he said, the current ratio of American to Afghan troops is 5 to 1. “Doubling the number of U.S. troops in the south will only worsen a ratio under which our forces are already matched up with fewer Afghan troops than they can and should partner with,” he said.

    When pressed by Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, why the United States had to invest so much military power and money in Afghanistan when Al Qaeda still had the ability to establish safe havens in other countries, Mr. Gates replied that Afghanistan was unique.

    Not only was it the place where the 2001 attacks against the United States were launched, he said, it “is still the wellspring of inspiration for extremist jihadism everywhere.”

    He said that the “guidance and strategic leadership” for Al Qaeda comes from the group’s leaders who are in the border area with Pakistan, and that there is an “unholy alliance” that has developed in the past year between Al Qaeda, the Taliban in Pakistan and the Taliban in Afghanistan.

    “And these people work off of each other’s mythology, off of each other’s narrative, and the success of one contributes to the success of the other,” Mr. Gates said.

    He added, “If anything, the situation, I think, is more serious today than it was a year ago because of the attacks of the Taliban in Pakistan on Pakistan, and the effort of al Qaeda in collusion with the Taliban in Pakistan to try and destabilize Pakistan itself.”

    Promising that he could “bring this war to a successful conclusion,” Mr. Obama set out a strategy that would seek to reverse Taliban gains in large parts of Afghanistan, better protect the Afghan people, increase the pressure on Afghanistan to build its own military capacity and a more effective government and step up attacks on Al Qaeda in Pakistan.
    Some observations:

    1. He needs to convince America, our troops, our allies and our enemies he's COMMITTED to victory in Afghanistan.

    2. He can't.

    3. Because he's not.

    4. Equal parts of ESCALATION and EXIT do not a coherent strategy make.

    5. At West Point Obama did not once use the word VICTORY.

    6. Naturally, he never even attempted to define what victory means (to him).

    7. An exit strategy devoid of victory is like a wedding date without a fiance.

    8. Most inexplicably, the president devoted 1/3 of his speech to PAKISTAN.

    9. We're battling the Taliban in Afghanistan to encourage Zardari to zonk Al Qaeda in Pakistan, explained our perplexed president.

    10. Afghanistan is fast becoming the WRONG WAR.

    11. Osama and Al Qaeda are next door, in what Obama euphemistically calls the "border region."

    12. The wholeness of his plan falls apart, he's incoherent.

    13. Furthermore, with America's entire national security at stake, he's transparently impelled by cheaper domestic politics.

    14. It took him 90 days and an embarrassing abundance of public hand-wringing and administrative infighting for Obama to arrive at a resolve identical to the policy he first LEAKED 3 months ago.

    15. If he's that consumed by politics at this stage of the war, how's he gonna react when the price inevitably increases, when casualties mount?

    The Prof
    Last edited by The Prof; 12-02-09 at 08:06 PM.

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    Re: Afghan Plan Faces Sharp Questioning

    Quote Originally Posted by The Prof View Post
    8. Most inexplicably, the president devoted 1/3 of his speech to PAKISTAN.

    9. We're battling the Taliban in Afghanistan to encourage Zardari to zonk Al Qaeda in Pakistan, explained our perplexed president.

    The Presidents understanding of how the two countries are intertwined was the only thing that gives me some hope in this undertaking.

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    Re: Afghan Plan Faces Sharp Questioning

    just some of the notables who've already spoken out against obtuse obama's west point approach, and some of their comments:

    maxine waters, last nite on msnbc---i'm "saddened," our "young president" who once offered so much "promise," "it doesn't work for me," "the congressional black caucus will not support" this

    dick durbin

    russ feingold

    lynn woolsey, leader of the house progressive caucus---"majority of dems will vote against war funding"

    michael moore

    moveon

    david obey

    chris matthews---"rue goldberg machine," chrissy's the guy who keeps harping about the incoherence of fighting talibans in afghanistan to get at al q's in pakistan

    chrissy also last nite made the mad faux pas of saying obama, in visiting the military acadamy, was going into the "enemy camp"

    he was referring to the cold, worried, sleepy and silent faces of the cadets

    chrissy apologized profusely today at the start of hardball

    jack murtha

    olbermann---"get out now;" "that way lies vietnam;" "if you liked iraq you'll love afghanistan;" "exit strategy begins by entering still further;" "catch 22;" "lose to win, sink to swim, escalate to disengage;" "disconnect of fundamental logic;" "so much of the change you were elected for has so far been understandably if begrudgingly tabled, delayed, made more open ended, but patience ebbs, mr president;" "while the first 1000 key decisions of your presidency were already made by the economy, this first public, easy to discern, mouse or elephant kind of decision" comes due tomorrow at west point; we "might as well shoot the revivified auto industry or embrace the john boehner health care system;" "you called for change for a better way and we listened, now you must listen---to yourself"

    bob schieffer---obama's strategy "isn't logical"

    bob herbert---"incoherent"

    howard fineman---it's like "hello, i must be going," a marx brothers song

    me: afghanistan is killing this president, and it's gonna get a lot worse

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    Re: Afghan Plan Faces Sharp Questioning

    This just emphasizes Clauswitz's definition of war as politics by other means. The military is in charge of performing the military actions that bring the enemy to where the politicians want them. Unfortunately, our politicians are not sure where they want the enemy, what to do with the enemy when they get there, or even who the enemy is. This has been a problem with more than just the Obama or W. Bush administrations too.

    Until our politicians decide what they consider victory and how to get to that point, our military is going to be swinging in the wind. Afghanistan as a nation just does not nor has ever existed. It is a coalition of tribes and must be dealt with as such. Basing all of our efforts and creating a national army there is not going to work. We should be looking at building relations with specific tribes and coalitions and supplying and training them sufficiently to allow them to hold the power in the region. Anything else is most likely doomed to failure.

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    Re: Afghan Plan Faces Sharp Questioning

    the american people have to be committed to victory. we need a tax hike on the rich to pay for it.

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    Re: Afghan Plan Faces Sharp Questioning

    sure, the people need to commit

    even as their incoherent commander in chief is all over the place

    absolutely, that's the way it's supposed to work, the amorphous mob imposing its will on single minded leadership

    LOL!

    meanwhile, any kind of tax to fund afghanistan is a non starter

    the white house has already shot it down

    you'll note at west point the prez said not a word about how his ESCALATION was to be paid for

    congressional dems will never support a tax for war

    republicans won't support a tax for anything

    obey's call for a war tax is just like rangel's bluff about a draft

    a shot across the bow of wannabe warmongers from congressional libs

    hello

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    Re: Afghan Plan Faces Sharp Questioning

    Quote Originally Posted by The Prof View Post
    even as their incoherent commander in chief is all over the place.
    Seems a much more definitive policy than the the previous 8 years of bumbling, but we both know no policy put forth by this President was going to garner your support.

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    Re: Afghan Plan Faces Sharp Questioning

    nor chris matthews'

    nor olbermann's

    nor ms waters'

    nor schieffers', obey's, feingold's, moveon's, the progressives', the cbc's...

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    Re: Afghan Plan Faces Sharp Questioning

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe1991 View Post
    Seems a much more definitive policy than the the previous 8 years of bumbling, but we both know no policy put forth by this President was going to garner your support.
    What did you put in your koolaid, LSD? Bumbling for 8 years? You don't like Bush, that's fine...but that man was decisive unlike your current little dumbo-eared boob and Bill Clinton.
    "He who does not think himself worth saving from poverty and ignorance by his own efforts, will hardly be thought worth the efforts of anybody else." -- Frederick Douglass, Self-Made Men (1872)
    "Fly-over" country voted, and The Donald is now POTUS.

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    Re: Afghan Plan Faces Sharp Questioning

    I have two problems with this "surge." It's months late. We have now informed the taliban and al qaeda exactly when we will withdraw win, lose, or draw. He's bulloxed the whole thing with this one speech.
    He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire. ~ Winston Churchill

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