Editor’s note: In the interest of debate on our nation’s foreign policy, we are offering a point/counter-point on the “surge” Afghanistan. Jeff Scott is arguing the needs for an increased presence sans a timeline for withdrawal. Brett Bittner will argue the case to bring our troops home.
President Obama on Tuesday night went to the United States Military Academy at West Point (described as the “enemy camp” by Chris Matthews) to announce his strategy for Afghanistan. He gave a speech with over 4,600 words, and none of those words were either “victory” or “win.” In fact, there was nothing in the speech that should give anybody any confidence that the President is interested in actually winning in Afghanistan.
This is not to say that the United States could not win in Afghanistan; only that we will not win when we plan our retreat before we start. There is a big difference between the United States’ efforts in Afghanistan and the oft-cited Soviet efforts there. The Soviets were trying to conquer and occupy Afghanistan (I still have not figured out why they were interested in it; after all, it has always been a third-world hellhole with no natural resources). The United States is not trying to conquer or occupy; only to prevent Afghanistan from once again becoming a safe haven for Islamic terrorists to set up a base from which to attack the United States again. Granted, that is a very difficult goal to achieve; it requires a government that is not tolerant of the Islamic terrorists being in their country that also has the popular support of the Afghan people. The key to having the Afghan people support the government is to create a middle class that actually has something to live for, which does not currently exist in Afghanistan.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates says that the United States has not received intelligence on the location of Osama bin Laden in some time:
Defense Secretary Robert Gates says the United States has not had good intelligence on the whereabouts of terrorist Osama bin Laden in years.
Gates made the comment in an interview to be aired Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”
Asked whether he could confirm recent reports that bin Laden had been seen recently in Afghanistan, Gates said “no.” Media reports late this week mentioned accounts of unconfirmed bin Laden sightings in recent weeks.
Bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaida, is believed to be hiding on the Pakistan side of the border with Afghanistan.
This is what happens when you turn your sites to a relatively pointless war in another country that presented to real threat instead of going after the real enemy.
Rep. John Duncan (R-TN) has it right:
There is nothing conservative about the war in Afghanistan. The Center for Defense Information said a few months ago that we had spent over $400 billion on the war and war-related costs there. Now, the Pentagon says it will cost about $1 billion for each 1,000 additional troops we send to Afghanistan. One Republican Member from California told me recently that we could buy off every warlord in Afghanistan for $1 billion.
Fiscal conservatives should be the ones most horrified by all this spending. Conservatives who oppose big government and huge deficit spending at home should not support it in foreign countries just because it is being done by our biggest bureaucracy, the Defense Department.
We have now spent $1.5 trillion that we did not have—that we had to borrow—in Iraq and Afghanistan. Eight years is long enough. In fact, it is too long. Let’s bring our troops home and start putting Americans first once again.
Thank you, Rep. Duncan, for speaking out.
Shortly after Thanksgiving, we should know what the President has decided to do in Afghanistan:
WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama held a final strategy session with top aides on whether to send more U.S. troops to Afghanistan and plans to announce his decision within days, the White House said.
NBC News reported that Dec. 1 was the “likely” date of the announcement, which was expected to be made in a primetime speech instead of an Oval address.
The session in the Situation Room on Monday with officials including Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates marked the ninth such meeting.
Obama is nearing a decision on whether to add as many as 40,000 troops to an eight-year-old war that began after the Sept. 11 attacks and has begun to try the patience of Americans.
“After completing a rigorous final meeting, President Obama has the information he wants and needs to make his decision and he will announce that decision within days,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said in an e-mail.
According to one report, the decision will involve sending another 34,000 troops to war:
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama met Monday evening with his national security team to finalize a plan to dispatch some 34,000 additional U.S. troops over the next year to what he’s called “a war of necessity” in Afghanistan, U.S. officials told McClatchy.
With no opposition candidate, Hamid Karzai’s path to re-election was pretty easy:
KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghan officials on Monday canceled plans for a runoff presidential vote, declaring President Hamid Karzai the winner after the withdrawal on Sunday of his last remaining challenger, Abdullah Abdullah.
The announcement capped a fraught election widely depicted as deeply flawed by corruption and voting irregularities..
Azizullah Ludin, the chairman of Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission, said the Constitution did not require a runoff and the second-round vote had been canceled after Mr. Abdullah’s announcement that he was dropping out of the race.
Mr. Karzai had earlier demanded that the runoff take place as scheduled on Saturday.
Listing the commission’s reasons for canceling the vote, Mr. Ludin said the electoral body wanted to spare Afghans the high costs and security risks of a fresh round of balloting. The concerns reflected the difficulties of holding an election amid a growing Taliban insurgency.
Mr. Karzai and the Independent Election Commission had been under intense pressure from Afghanistan’s international backers, including the United States, to cancel the second round because of security perils and worries about a potential repetition of the vote-rigging that marred the first round. At a news conference, Mr. Ludin said Mr. Karzai had won the majority of votes in the first round “and was the only candidate in the second round.”
Accordingly, Mr. Ludin said, Mr. Karzai was “declared the elected president of Afghanistan.”
Officials from the United States and United Nations welcomed the decision and congratulated Mr. Karzai.
It’s been a deadly 48 hours for the United States in Afghanistan.
KABUL (AP) — Eight American troops were killed in two separate insurgent attacks Tuesday in southern Afghanistan, making October the deadliest month of the war for U.S. forces since the 2001 invasion to oust the Taliban.
In one of the insurgent assaults, seven Americans were killed while patrolling in armored vehicles, U.S. forces spokesman Lt. Col. Todd Vician said. He said an Afghan civilian died in the same attack. The eighth American was killed in a separate attack elsewhere in the south, also while patrolling in a military vehicle, he said.
The military issued a statement saying the deaths occurred during ”multiple, complex” bomb strikes. It said several troops were wounded and evacuated to a nearby medical facility, but gave no other details.
Capt. Adam Weece, a spokesman for American forces in the south, said both attacks occurred in Kandahar province. In Washington, a U.S. defense official said at least one was followed by an intense firefight with insurgents who attacked after an initial bomb went off. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to release the information.
The memo also authorized keeping Zubaydah in a dark, confined space small enough to restrict the individual’s movement for no more than two hours at a time. In addition, putting a harmless insect into the box with Zubaydah, who “appears to have a fear of insects,” and telling him it is a stinging insect would be allowed, as long as Zubaydah was informed the insect’s sting would not be fatal or cause severe pain.
“If, however, you were to place the insect in the box without informing him that you are doing so … you should not affirmatively lead him to believe that any insect is present which has a sting that could produce severe pain or suffering or even cause his death,” the memo said.
I remember liberals talking about what a profound waste it was when Bush was requesting $87 billion to fund the war back in late 2003 (the same $87 billion that became a headache in 2004 for Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry).
It looks as if those happy times are here again:
WASHINGTON (CNN) — The Obama administration will ask Congress for another $83.4 billion to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan through the end of September, Democratic congressional sources said Thursday.
The request is expected to pay for those conflicts for the rest of the 2009 budget year, two Democratic congressional sources said.
It’s about two months in and far too early for a final analysis of Barack Obama’s presidency. Unsurprisingly, however, Ed Morrisey at Hot Air seems to view a recent article in the Economist arguing that Obama is providing insufficient leadership as warranting an obituary on the only two month old Obama administration.
On the main issue of the economy, Obama hasn’t parted the sea or transformed America into a land of gumdrops and lollipops equally shared amongst all citizens. That may prove a disappoint to some of his supporters.
“Attempts to expand the military infrastructure of Nato near the borders of our country are continuing,” Medvedev told an annual meeting with the Defence Ministry’s staff.
Russia has described plans by the previous US administration to grant Nato membership to ex-Soviet Ukraine and Georgia, and to deploy elements of a US missile shield in Eastern Europe, as a direct threat to its national security.