‘Obama’s Wars’, in Afghanistan and in DC

afghanpoll

The results of a recent poll for Politico on Afghanistan

Last year, President Obama warned advisers that “I have two years with the public” in which to make a difference in Afghanistan, Bob Woodward writes in his latest book. Obama also explained to a Republican senator that in setting policy, “I can’t lose the whole Democratic Party.”

As it turns out, the backing of both Democratic and Republican voters has all but vanished anyway. Poll after poll show that Americans of every political persuasion have become deeply pessimistic about what might be accomplished by further sacrifice in Afghanistan.

In the most recent poll, by Politico, just 21 percent of Americans — and 26 percent of Republicans — believe that in the end we’re going to be successful in Afghanistan. The only reason that sentiment hasn’t translated into widespread opposition among politicians in Washington is because while voters oppose continuation of the war, they also just don’t care about it very much.

Afghanistan-war

Personally, I think there’s something morally questionable about sending American men and women off to die in a war that most of their countrymen forget we’re even fighting most of the time. If people are volunteering to make the ultimate sacrifice on our behalf, the least we could do is take notice and care.

Nonetheless, “Obama’s Wars,” Woodward’s account of the Afghanistan debate within the administration, has brought predictable political responses. At one point, for example, Woodward quotes Obama as saying that “we can absorb a terrorist attack. We’ll do everything we can to prevent it, but even a 9/11, even the biggest attack ever … we absorbed it and we are stronger.”

To most Americans, that’s a reasonable statement of fact and even resolve, but there are those intent on hearing something else in those words. “How can an American president say that, as if he’s a detached observer and doesn’t care about Americans dying?” John Bolton, the former UN ambassador and a self-styled presidential possibility, asked on Fox News.

Most of the excerpts of Woodward’s book published so far focus on the complex interplay between Obama and his generals in setting policy. The men wearing stars on their shoulders want more troops, more time and more resources; Obama insists that more troops, time and resources come with limits that reflect political reality and the desires of the American people.

“In 2010, we will not be having a conversation about how to do more,” Obama is quoted as telling the brass. “I will not want to hear, ‘We’re doing fine, Mr. President, but we’d be better if we just do more.’ We’re not going to be having a conversation about how to change [the mission] … unless we’re talking about how to draw down faster than anticipated in 2011.”

That too has drawn predictable responses, including allegations that Obama is substituting his own judgment for that of military experts and is compromising our security with such a stance.

“The tragedy is by under-resourcing and de-prioritizing the Afghanistan war, Obama is sacrificing crucial U.S. national security interests and leaving the American people more vulnerable to future terrorist attacks,” Lisa Clark at the Heritage Foundation concluded.

That’s quite an indictment, particularly from a think tank that championed the invasion of Iraq. That decision ensured that our efforts Afghanistan would be grossly under-resourced for most of a decade. It also overlooks the fact that the military itself is deeply divided. According to Woodward, three high-ranking generals on Obama’s staff, two of whom are retired, were extremely dubious about the prospects of an Afghanistan surge.

Besides, a president as commander in chief has not just the right but the obligation to impose his own judgment on such matters.

Generals are programmed with a relatively narrow mindset, to fight and find a way to win. Public support, for the most part, is not their concern and shouldn’t be. Nor is it their place to worry about the financial strain of another 10 years of warfare — the time frame some in uniform have suggested will be necessary — on a nation that is only now coming to understand that it has fiscal limits. Generals also can’t let themselves worry whether victory, as traditionally understood, is even possible in a place such as Afghanistan.

A president can, and must, consider those factors. As Obama reportedly told Woodward on the question of victory, “I think about it more in terms of: Do you successfully prosecute a strategy that results in the country being stronger rather than weaker at the end?”

After almost 10 years with so little to show for it, that seems the right question to be asking.

232 comments Add your comment

Kamchak

September 23rd, 2010
8:51 am

MR. PRESIDENT

BRING OUR TROOPS HOME, NOW!

Jay for President

September 23rd, 2010
8:53 am

War is not the answer; however, neither is leaving those people war torn and hopeless again.

USinUK

September 23rd, 2010
8:56 am

“In the most recent poll, by Politico, just 21 percent of Americans — and 26 percent of Republicans — believe that in the end we’re going to be successful in Afghanistan”

here’s my question – what happened to the sneerers? what happened to the “don’t cut-n-run”ers? what happened to the people (primarily Republicans) who derided anyone as wanting to get out of Afghanistan or Iraq as hating the troops?

Doggone/GA

September 23rd, 2010
8:56 am

“neither is leaving those people war torn and hopeless again.”

Pity it’s taking some people 10 years to learn what a LOT of us knew 10 years ago.

Bosch

September 23rd, 2010
8:58 am

It’s quite obvious that the country as a whole does not want war in Afghanistan — especially those who want to reduce spending and lower taxes. If we want to do this right, then we need to raise taxes to pay for it — in my opinion there is no other way. I’ve always advocated for a “war tax” — slap on a small percentage for everything you buy so that everytime you buy something you are tangibly faced with what war is and you take responsibility for it just like the soldiers who are fighting it.

Jay for President

September 23rd, 2010
8:59 am

We have a large number of troops in Okinawa, South Korea, Germany, and now Iraq. I dont’t see a different path being taken with Afghanistan either. When will we decide to stop trying to police the world.

Bosch

September 23rd, 2010
8:59 am

“neither is leaving those people war torn and hopeless again”

Those people have been war torn and hopeless for a long time because people keep invading them.

Doggone/GA

September 23rd, 2010
9:00 am

“because people keep invading them.”

Not entirely. The Taliban were not, and are not, invaders. They’re homegrown all the way.

TaxPayer

September 23rd, 2010
9:00 am

“The tragedy is by under-resourcing and de-prioritizing the Afghanistan war, Obama is sacrificing crucial U.S. national security interests and leaving the American people more vulnerable to future terrorist attacks,” Lisa Clark at the Heritage Foundation concluded.

Therefore, Obama must take decisive and immediate steps before it is too late, as it was with Bush at the end of his term. Obama must make draconian cuts in taxes such that tax revenues will increase substantially and thus allow for proper funding of the DoD. After all, a trillion dollars annually just does not buy what it used to.

Bosch

September 23rd, 2010
9:00 am

USinUK@ 8:56 –

They are at TJ Maxx buying a new fall wardrobe!!!

Bosch

September 23rd, 2010
9:02 am

Doggone,

Have you ever read that book by Ken Follet — dang it I can’t think of the title but it has the word “lion” in it…..

Anywho — it’s interesting to read about Afghanistan before the Russians invaded — they had it pretty good on their own.

USinUK

September 23rd, 2010
9:03 am

Bosch – 9:00 – or they’re just easily distracted by Jersey Shore

jm

September 23rd, 2010
9:03 am

NPR coverage this morning of progress in military training in Iraq was interesting. You never see all of an iceberg. Progress in nation building can be hard to see. Maybe we’re making progress. Maybe not….

Jay for President

September 23rd, 2010
9:04 am

Don’t get me wrong, I support kicking some terrorist a$$. This war on the other hand is not going to be won by playing war and then leaving. Didn’t work in any other combat area, won’t work here either. If we are to stay, then we must actually go to war and stop playing around. If there’s little to no public support, then we need to come home.

USinUK

September 23rd, 2010
9:04 am

Bosch – 9:02 –

http://www.ken-follett.com/bibliography/lie_down_with_lions.html

the only thing I’ve ever read was Pillars of the Earth … good read

jm

September 23rd, 2010
9:05 am

9:03 correction – meant to say Afghanistan, not “iraq”

Doggone/GA

September 23rd, 2010
9:05 am

Bosch – No, I haven’t read any book like that…but I did see an interview some time ago with some Afghans and they were glad to see the country being more open, and in particular, being allowed to play music again – like “before the Taliban”

Bosch

September 23rd, 2010
9:05 am

“Lie Down with Lions” and yes I know it’s fiction and you shouldn’t base historical opinions on fiction, but I’ve read other non-fiction stuff about it — but that’s a good book…..

jm

September 23rd, 2010
9:06 am

carlosgvv

September 23rd, 2010
9:06 am

There is a bitter drug war going on now in Mexico which threatens to spill over to our borders. Meanwhile, halfway around the world in Afghanistan, our military is engaged in a hopeless war that cannot possibly be won. We need to bring those troops home NOW from Afghanistan and Iraq and deploy a large number on troops, tanks and artillery near the Mexican border. MR PRESIDENT, ARE YOU LISTENING?

Doggone/GA

September 23rd, 2010
9:06 am

“Progress in nation building can be hard to see”

“I don’t think our troops should be used for what’s called nation building.”
- George W. Bush, 2000

Jay for President

September 23rd, 2010
9:07 am

Amen Carlosgvv.

Doggone/GA

September 23rd, 2010
9:08 am

“deploy a large number on troops, tanks and artillery near the Mexican border. MR PRESIDENT, ARE YOU LISTENING?”

I suggest you look up the term “posse comitatus” and learn why that would be illegal.

Bosch

September 23rd, 2010
9:08 am

USinUK,

“Pillars” is one of the Bosch’s all time favs. LOVE that book — I haven’t read the sequel yet though……

Doggone,

Yeap, good example of what fundamentalism can do to a country.

jm

September 23rd, 2010
9:10 am

Doggone 9:06 – what’s your point? I didn’t vote for Bush and could give a rats butt what he said before 9/11 (and pretty much after as well)

Bosch

September 23rd, 2010
9:11 am

Doggone,

Not to mention the craziness that would ensue from the wingnuts to have Obama commanding federal troops in the country — can you hear the “ohmygod obama and his secret army is gonna come get us all and make us muslims?”

barking frog

September 23rd, 2010
9:12 am

Americans might pay attention to the war in Afghanistan
if someone could tell them why we’re there.

Doggone/GA

September 23rd, 2010
9:12 am

“good example of what fundamentalism can do to a country”

Yes, it is…but Iraq, in particular, and Afghanistan to nearly the same extent…have changed how I feel about protecting the innocent civilians of a nation against such forces and people as the Taliban and Saddam Hussein.

Bottomline…if the people want them gone they’ll fight them. The Iraqis are having no trouble fighting against US. The Afghans successfully fought the Russians. There’s not reason WE had to go into either country to get rid of the Taliban or Hussein. When the people of those countries got tired of them, they were (and are) perfectly capable of getting rid of them.

We should not have been in Iraq at all, and we should have gone into Afghanistan, gotten Bin Laden and gotten out.

jm

September 23rd, 2010
9:14 am

Doggone – you’d make a crummy leader, president, and you make a pretty crummy citizen too.

“We should not have been in Iraq at all, and we should have gone into Afghanistan, gotten Bin Laden and gotten out.”

Your mind is divorced from reality….

Bosch

September 23rd, 2010
9:14 am

Doggone @ 9:12 —

Preaching to the choir….preaching to the choir…..and I’ll throw in a TESTIFY!!!

Don't Forget

September 23rd, 2010
9:14 am

Hmmm, seems everybody has a position similar to Biden’s today.

Paul

September 23rd, 2010
9:16 am

Experience vs Judgment?

This demonstrates which is the most valuable characteristic. Those with ‘experience’ got us into this morass. A president with the judgment to question everything, not lose sight or reality or principles, who does, as Stephen Covey likes to say “begin with the end in mind” will hopefully extricate us.

The senior military leadership are, as I understand it, supposed to take the high-level concepts enunciated by the commander in chief and translate that into a course of action. It appears that senior military have, again, failed, instead pursuing either their vision of ’success’.

Doggone/GA

September 23rd, 2010
9:16 am

“I didn’t vote for Bush and could give a rats butt what he said before 9/11 ”

But the quote from you that I used appeared to be supporting the job of nation building. Something I NEVER supported, and that I found hypocritical to the max for Bush to have even started.

FrankLeeDarling

September 23rd, 2010
9:16 am

Is there anything (short of finding Bin laden)that we can still accomplish there?

Don't Forget

September 23rd, 2010
9:17 am

If we hadn’t turned the most important military mission since 9/11 over to the Afgans (Tora Bora) I don’t think we’d be having this discussion and probably wouldn’t be talking about Iraq either.

Paul

September 23rd, 2010
9:17 am

instead pursuing either their vision of ’success’ or continuing on a path that will allow them to say “it wasn’t me who lost.”

Doggone/GA

September 23rd, 2010
9:17 am

“can you hear the “ohmygod obama and his secret army is gonna come get us all and make us muslims?”

Indeed…I surely can!

Doggone/GA

September 23rd, 2010
9:20 am

“you make a pretty crummy citizen too.”

Coming from you…I’ll take that as a compliment.

Don't Forget

September 23rd, 2010
9:20 am

The elephant in the room that no one is talking about is Pakistan. The best argument for stabilizing Afganistan is concern that Pakistan might also become unstable. I’m not sure I agree, but that’s the big national security concern in that region.

Paul

September 23rd, 2010
9:20 am

Don’t Forget

“If we hadn’t turned the most important military mission since 9/11 over to the Afgans (Tora Bora)”

We worked with Afghan warlords. We paid them, bribed them, used their men. But we didn’t turn things over to them. We ran the show and controlled the majority of assets.

barking frog

September 23rd, 2010
9:21 am

Anyone who believes that Iraq and Afghanistan will
remain democratic probably buys their drugs from
a street vendor.

USinUK

September 23rd, 2010
9:23 am

Bosch – it’s been nearly 20 years since I read it – I may need to add it to my book queue … (nearly finished with the Mists of Avalon – good, but dense)

USinUK

September 23rd, 2010
9:24 am

““can you hear the “ohmygod obama and his secret army is gonna come get us all and make us muslims?””

gimme a break, I’m doing everything I can, but it’s hard to start rumors from this side of the pond …

barking frog

September 23rd, 2010
9:25 am

Kamchak 8:51 You got that right.

The Boner's Tan Line

September 23rd, 2010
9:25 am

The Boner is on Cloud 9. The Big Day! The Boner and Pasty Pence are unveiling their Pledge To America, and it is a doozy! No war talk, but of great interest will be repeal of the new health care bill. Death Panel Alert! If you got a pre existing condition, Sayonara to ya! Go ahead and plan your funeral.

The rich will get to keep their tax cuts, of course. You poor and middle class, the joke’s on you! HA!

The Boner wants this deficit reduced, pronto! There will be no talk of Social Security and Medicare, big drivers of deficit spending, though. Too controversial. The Boner knows how to work it. Wink-wink.

Well, Chrissy came over last night and laid out all spread-eagled on the satanic altar but the Boner didn’t take up much time with her. He wanted to spend the evening in the tanning bed so he’d glow like the fruit of the Florida sunshine tree today.

Make plans to watch the Boner. He don’t want to share the spotlight with Pasty Pence, but to get the job done, a feller’s gotta do what a feller’s gotta do!

Gale

September 23rd, 2010
9:26 am

Success is such a subjective value. There are a few cities in Afghanistan. But mostly this is an agrarian society in a county of rough terrain. If we want to diminish the Taliban control and enpower the Afghan people, we need to help them enpower themselves. Building hospitals and prisons is a good gesture, but most of the population is unaffected by that. Helping them to build sustainable farms and small industry with access to markets will remove the dependence on opium trade. Help them get fresh water and power in the isolated communities. Give people a feeling that they can control their own lives and the Taliban will have less power. As long as the people are unhappy and weak, there will be a source of terrorists that can be directed at their perceived enemy. The Taliban tells them that enemy should be us.

Doggone/GA

September 23rd, 2010
9:27 am

Long and detailed:

“How bin Laden got away”

http://www.csmonitor.com/2002/0304/p01s03-wosc.html

RW-(the original)

September 23rd, 2010
9:27 am

After the last few years I’ve gotten pretty leery of commenting on the book excerpts a publisher releases to generate buzz for a book. You can’t blame them and I guess its hard for a columnist to ignore analyzing the excerpts rather than wait for the book, but we’ve repeatedly been burned by these very excerpts in recent years.

The one part of Jay B’s column that doesn’t rely on the book excerpts continues the claim that somehow Iraq kept us from running hundreds of thousands of troops all over Afghanistan and someone “winning” whatever it is that would have won. A huge troop presence in Afghanistan is a fool’s errand and a deadly slaughterhouse for our troops. Iraq was both a different war at the beginning and the same war in the latter years as the bulk of what we fought in Iraq in the later years were the very same people we would have been fighting on a much more difficult battlefield even as Richard Clark’s now conveniently forgotten Boogie to Baghdad theory would have played out for AQ leadership as they moved there while we sent body bags home from Afghanistan.

Whether the book quote goes on to have a, but…after the pullout date, its apparent Obama has no will for this fight and there’s also no way we can “win” and come home in 11 months, so let’s leave what there is of an Afghan security force our trucks and hummers, but bring our troops home beginning with the next flight out.

Don't Forget

September 23rd, 2010
9:28 am

Paul, you are mistaken. Operatives in Afganistan were BEGGING for Rangers at Tora Bora but Rumsfeld wouldn’t send any. Watch this documentary it’s very interesting and has lots of interviews of administration officials. The subject is addressed in the latter part of the documentary.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/darkside/view/

Paul

September 23rd, 2010
9:31 am

Tan Line

“The Boner and Pasty Pence are unveiling their Pledge To America,”

As was noted earlier, “No social nonsense. Rep Mike Pence fought a desperate battle to get those issues included but was firmly turned away by GOP leadership.”

And an increasing number of Democrats in Congress are calling for the extension of tax cuts for all income levels.

@@

September 23rd, 2010
9:31 am

Ratcheting up the Anti-War Machine, jay?

The mission, although I may not agree with it, is to force the Taliban into negotiations with the Afghan government. Whether that’s a winning strategy is something I won’t comment on.

Professor AMOS GUIORA (University of Utah): Its obvious to them that there is someone amongst them whos a mole or is a turncoat against them. And that clearly rattles their cage. From the group’s perspective, from the terrorist organizations perspective, not only has an operative been killed but it is an indication of penetration which suggests potential weakness.

MARTIN: It’s impossible to measure the real impact of the recent drone attacks. But the timing and scope of the strikes, more than a dozen in the past two weeks, suggests that one hit can lead to another. Again, John Nagl.

Mr. NAGL: Theres a burst of activity. People move. People talk. Things happen. Once you get that first corner lifted to see inside an insurgent cell, its much easier then to find the second and the third and the fourth and the network sort of lights up.

MARTIN: But U.S. officials have to assess whether the tactical rewards of conducting drone strikes outweigh the political risks. The strikes are criticized around the world as state sponsored assassinations. They sometimes kill innocent civilians and they stir up anti-American sentiment in Pakistan.

All reasons why when it comes to drone strikes, it’s easier for the U.S. to just not talk about them.

Can the left-wingers keep THEIR mouths shut during Obama’s War. They couldn’t during Bush’s term.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=129953845

US troops defeat Haqqani Network assault on base in Khost

http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2010/09/us_troops_defeat_haq.php#ixzz10N3LOZwP

Doggone/GA

September 23rd, 2010
9:32 am

“Richard Clark’s now conveniently forgotten Boogie to Baghdad theory would have played out for AQ leadership as they moved there while we sent body bags home from Afghanistan.”

By invading Iraq, and taking out Saddm Hussein we opened the door for Al-Qaida to go into that country. Hussein and Bin Laden were bitter enemies and Hussein was successfully keeping Al-Qaida OUT of this country. We change all that by invading…and invading on false pretenses. We should NEVER have gone there, period.

Doggone/GA

September 23rd, 2010
9:33 am

“And an increasing number of Democrats in Congress are calling for the extension of tax cuts for all income levels”

And Democrats voted to give Bush the authority to invade Iraq. So what’s your point?

Soothsayer

September 23rd, 2010
9:33 am

Well, we are now a few decades away from a century of war. Think about it. Beginning in 1941, the United States has been involved in some sort of conflict ever since.

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, war is big business in this country. And, it is a good and profitable business.

So, the “where” and “why” no longer is all that important, just simply that there “is” a war (or two) going all the time.

What kind of country would the U.S. be if we didn’t spend a $trillion on materiel every year? We likely will never know since we have no control over it.

Paul

September 23rd, 2010
9:35 am

Don’t Forget

“Paul, you are mistaken.”

Am I? You said at 9:11 that we turned over control of the Tora Bora op to Afghans. I said we maintained control while we used Afghan assets.

Your 9:28, in which you state SecDef Rumsfield, exercised final approval over assets, further confirms my contention we retained control and did not turn it over to Afghans.

Doggone/GA

September 23rd, 2010
9:35 am

“Hussein and Bin Laden were bitter enemies and Hussein was successfully keeping Al-Qaida OUT of this country”

Sorry…this should say: “Hussein and Bin Laden were bitter enemies and Hussein was successfully keeping Al-Qaida OUT of HIS country”

Peter

September 23rd, 2010
9:37 am

Well Obama has been given the task of cleaning up the Bush’s messes……..and how was either WAR a win for the American people ?

Do we cut bait now is the question ?

Also do the Afghanistan people care, or are they calling us invaders at this point ?

To me Afghanistan seems like a fraction-ed country no different than Iran, one that has different war lord’s wanting personal gains, and the country is not united in any way. A seemingly collective of small villages, that do not communicate with each other.

How do you win a War like that ?

TaxPayer

September 23rd, 2010
9:37 am

I wonder how the Republicans propose paying for the tax cuts this time around. Will it be to once again let the tax cuts expire in ten years or maybe increase payroll taxes to pay for the tax cuts. Inquiring minds… so many possibilities.

Peter

September 23rd, 2010
9:38 am

Gee Doggone/GA ……. Dick Cheney said other wise…..they were partners in the 911 crime we were told.

Paul

September 23rd, 2010
9:39 am

Doggone/GA

What’s my point? I could ask the same of your post. That quote was pulled from my response to Tan Line, who had written (in a slam on Republicans) “The rich will get to keep their tax cuts, of course. You poor and middle class, the joke’s on you! HA!’

The point is, Congressional Democrats have joined with Congressional Republicans to extend the tax cuts for all income levels. Has nothing to do with Iraq.

Doggone/GA

September 23rd, 2010
9:39 am

Peter – part of the problem with both Afghanistan and Iraq (and LOTS of other “countries”) is that the borders were set by Western empire buildiers, not the local people. So all sorts of different groups, many that hated and despised each other, suddenly found themselves lumped together into a “country” based on which outside country happened to draw the borders. And we’re surprised today that they can’t “just all get along”?

Don't Forget

September 23rd, 2010
9:40 am

Paul, you’re arguing semantics. Ok, have it your way. We stood by and watched Afghans let OBL escape but we were always in control. Feel better?

USinUK

September 23rd, 2010
9:40 am

“Dick Cheney said other wise…..they were partners in the 911 crime we were told.”

someone … now, who was it again??? someone here says that Dick Cheney is a weevil. no, that’s not it … he played Smegal. nope. that’s not it either …

Bosch, can you help me out?

Doggone/GA

September 23rd, 2010
9:40 am

“they were partners in the 911 crime we were told.”

Yep, and all *I* could do at the time was shake my head at how many people seemed to WANT to be deluded into thinking he was telling some sort of truth.

Del

September 23rd, 2010
9:41 am

Jay, I realize that the excerpts from Woodward’s book as they’ve been reported make for a very difficult spin but you tried. I don’t see how you can say that “most Americans” find as reasonable Obama’s statement about absorbing another terrorist attack and our country becoming stronger as a result. Given the worst case scenarios it would be unreasonable to make that assumption and strange for an American president and C&C to make such a statement.

jm

September 23rd, 2010
9:42 am

Doggone – I agree with your 9:32 which is all factual up to the point when this comes in-

“and invading on false pretenses. We should NEVER have gone there, period.”

That last sentence is a judgment. I disagree, but it’s history now.

Doggone/GA

September 23rd, 2010
9:42 am

“The point is, Congressional Democrats have joined with Congressional Republicans to extend the tax cuts for all income levels. Has nothing to do with Iraq.”

No, maybe not…but it does seem to imply that just because DEMOCRATIC Congressionals agree it should mean something. It doesn’t…except to the extent that THEY get to vote on it and WE don’t. We’re not obligated to “go along” JUST because they’re Democrats.

jt

September 23rd, 2010
9:43 am

Good thing that “combat troops” are out of Iraq.

Why can’t we pronounce the same thing in Aphgan?

Problem solved.

Paul

September 23rd, 2010
9:43 am

Don’t Forget

Is “Paul, you’re arguing semantics.” your way of saying “oops, I misspoke’?

“Turning over control” is not semantics. If you’re at work and someone accuses you of turning over control of a big project to subcontractors, do you say “yes, I did” even though you retained control of the money and materials and hiring and firing and customer relations”?

Disgusted

September 23rd, 2010
9:44 am

The elephant in the room that no one is talking about is Pakistan. The best argument for stabilizing Afganistan is concern that Pakistan might also become unstable. I’m not sure I agree, but that’s the big national security concern in that region.

Pakistan’s government doesn’t even have full control of its own territory, nor of some of its agencies. There are areas where the army dares not go, and the intelligence agency is rife with Taliban sympathizers and agents. There’s no evidence that short of massive infusions of U.S. aid, Pakistan has any reason to be cooperative with us, nor is there any evidence that a stable Afghanistan will do anything to boost Pakistan’s security. We are propping up the corrupt Karzai regime, for which the majority of Afghans have contempt. We never seem to learn. We have sided with corrupt Latin American dictators, and we aid those who have no regard for human life.

Worst of all, we have learned nothing from history. If Alexander the Great could not conquer Afghanistan, if the British could not, if the Soviet Union could not, then what makes us think we can? A people have to want freedom before they’re willing to fight for it. It is clear that the Afghan population is accepting of the old tribal ways.

In short, there’s nothing our troops can do that air power cannot. Let the savages have their way with Karzai and his puppets. We are engaged now in nation building in its ugliest aspects. Bring our troops home and stop the waste of more human blood and resources.

Doggone/GA

September 23rd, 2010
9:44 am

“That last sentence is a judgment. I disagree”

And which part of what you quoted do you disagree with? That we went on false pretenses, or that we should never have gone there?

If the first, please provide your evidence that ANY of the many, many reasons given for invading had ANY sort of foundation in actual FACT.

Bosch

September 23rd, 2010
9:46 am

Dick Cheney is EVIL EVIL EVIL!!!! :evil:

jm

September 23rd, 2010
9:46 am

Jay, to build on Del’s point. Obama, if that quote is accurate (I haven’t read the book), while seemingly inspiring, is delusional. It is still a distinct possibility that some complete crackpot will get his hands on a nuke and set it off in a very populated city. That is something that would be so devastating to this country as to be unimaginable almost. Although I’m sure Obama is aware

“We’ll do everything we can to prevent it, but even a 9/11, even the biggest attack ever”

While 9/11 was the biggest terrorist attack to date, it is not the POTENTIAL “biggest attack ever.”

Whatever, I’m sure they’re doing everything they can to stop another 9/11, but its not easy.

Paul

September 23rd, 2010
9:48 am

Bosch

And Charlie Rangel’s still a crook!

A re-elected crook, but a crook all the same!

He’s king of the Pelosi Swamp! Yea!!!

:-)

Don't Forget

September 23rd, 2010
9:48 am

Paul, who was given the task of preventing OBL’s escape? Answer: Afghans. The only oops was by W’s administration.

Jay

September 23rd, 2010
9:49 am

Del, the folks on Fox have certainly TRIED to make that a big controversy, just as you did yesterday. But the American public ain’t buying it, which is why just one day after that quote was released, nobody’s paying it much attention any longer. The effort to turn it into something it wasn’t was just too ridiculous to be sustained.

Russ555

September 23rd, 2010
9:49 am

Presidents that continue to fight unpopular wars get replaced by candidates who promised to end them. Truman, Johnson both chose not to run again because the American people wanted the fighting to stop. Congressman won’t keep voting to fund unpopular wars.
I think we will keep some forces in Afgan and Iraq for many years, but at reduced levels, like we have in Korea.

Doggone/GA

September 23rd, 2010
9:50 am

“It is still a distinct possibility that some complete crackpot will get his hands on a nuke and set it off in a very populated city. That is something that would be so devastating to this country as to be unimaginable almost”

Sure it would be devastating…but do you REALLY, REALLY think it would bring us down as a country? I don’t think so. I think it would harden our resolve to NOT be destroyed as either a country or as a society.

Bosch

September 23rd, 2010
9:50 am

Paul,

Hey — what can I say? The people in Rangel’s district likes crooks.

USinUK

September 23rd, 2010
9:51 am

Bosch – 9:46 – THAT’S the word I was trying to think of … thanks! ;-)

Bosch

September 23rd, 2010
9:52 am

I think it was Doggone who pointed this out (very astutely by the way) — funny how that one quote from a book that was just released yesterday got everyone on the right’s attention — that ONE particular quote — from those who haven’t even read the book no less…..and they say they can think for themselves. Pshaw!

Doggone/GA

September 23rd, 2010
9:52 am

” think we will keep some forces in Afgan and Iraq for many years, but at reduced levels, like we have in Korea.”

I agree

jm

September 23rd, 2010
9:52 am

Doggone 9:44 – Your suggestion, though you don’t state it, is that we intentionally went there on “false pretenses.” If you’re saying we went there on “false pretenses”, but they made a mistake interpreting the intelligence, a giant whoops, then I stand corrected. But I don’t think that’s what you’re saying.

In my opinion, and I think the facts support this, they were false pretenses, but they genuinely believed Iraq had WMD’s. They ignored countervailing intelligence. But they weren’t acting contrary to the facts – as they genuinely believed them to be. At its core, you think Bush lied. I don’t.

On the issue of going to Iraq, based on the facts available at the time, and charged with the defense of this country against all threats foreign and domestic, I’d have done the same thing as Bush did. I don’t have the energy to go into all the reasons, in part because you’ll never believe – or seemingly consider – that Iraq was the right thing to do.

Soothsayer

September 23rd, 2010
9:53 am

Bosch

September 23rd, 2010
9:54 am

jm,

They went in either under false pretenses or they were complete dumb asses for invading a war on intelligence they should have been damn well sure was real and true.

Either way…..doesn’t put them in a good light.

TaxPayer

September 23rd, 2010
9:54 am

The effort to turn it into something it wasn’t was just too ridiculous to be sustained.

That’s never stopped the tools at Fox before. They will continue to sling their stuff in hopes that they’ll get some juicy fabrication to stick and further their bosses cause. Otherwise, they could get the boot during one of their annual performance reviews with Rupert.

Kamchak

September 23rd, 2010
9:54 am

I’d have done the same thing as Bush did. I don’t have the energy to go into all the reasons…

Because they were all wrong?

Bosch

September 23rd, 2010
9:55 am

Sorry, make that “invading a country” — started to type “starting a war” and the two phrases got mixed up in my head and therefore into my typing fingers.

Doggone/GA

September 23rd, 2010
9:55 am

“They ignored countervailing intelligence. But they weren’t acting contrary to the facts – as they genuinely believed them to be.”

Can you really not see the contradiction in this? YOu think they acted on the “facts” but the ignored anything that was “countervailing intelligence”? Then they did NOT act on the facts. Can’t you SEE that? They cherrypicked whatever intelligence (not FACTS) that fit what they had already decided to do and then sold that “intelligence” as a bill of goods to the gullible public and politicians.

The FACTS were against them, so the ignored those FACTS.

Bosch

September 23rd, 2010
9:56 am

“in part because you’ll never believe – or seemingly consider – that Iraq was the right thing to do.”

That’s right. I won’t — I knew in March 2003 that it was the wrong thing to do, but then again, I didn’t get a phone call from the Prez.

USinUK

September 23rd, 2010
9:57 am

“” think we will keep some forces in Afgan and Iraq for many years, but at reduced levels, like we have in Korea.””

maybe – but Afghanistan is SUCH a different situation – Korea has a formal DMZ that the US patrols. it’s a limited engagement, limited geography, limited parameters. Afghanistan is WAY too nebulous to accurately compare …

jm

September 23rd, 2010
9:58 am

Bosch 9:54 – “doesn’t put them in a good light” true. But divining the contents of black boxes isn’t an easy undertaking. The CIA sucks at its job, for a variety of reasons. President’s haven’t believed anything CIA says since probably the 70’s onward.

pat

September 23rd, 2010
9:58 am

We need another surge. You wanna win you need to dominate. The quicker we win the war, the more lives we can save. To pull walk away or lose will result in a stunning loss of life. We cannot and will not let the terrorists regroup and become more powerful than before. We cannot also give them a free and clear place to operate.

Doggone/GA

September 23rd, 2010
9:59 am

“CIA sucks at its job, for a variety of reasons. ”

The CIA wasn’t the problem. The FACTS were being reported in the newpapers, all they had to do was pick one up and READ IT.

jm

September 23rd, 2010
9:59 am

Doggone 9:55 – you have very good hindsight….

Paul

September 23rd, 2010
10:00 am

Don’t Forget

I think that greatly minimizes the reality of the US CIA, special ops and regular forces role in Jawbreaker (the name for the Tora Bora op). I don’t think it’s a simple finger-pointing exercise. I’ve read a number of accounts of events there and I think there is plenty of blame to go around. General Franks, CENTCOM commander, made some blunders. CIA wasn’t tough enough to prevent the power play by SecDef Rumsfeld. Then the traditional generals exercised their conventional control in an unconventional operation. Political considerations (Afghan involvement) were a reality. Many of those on the ground have come out with “if only they’d done what I asked we could’ve gotten him” books. The on-scene special ops guy wrote, under a pseudonym, that they had a pretty good pinpoint location on OBL and called in air strikes.

Would it have made any difference if we had killed OBL? I frankly don’t know. It didn’t take AQ long to decentralize and morph – this likely would have happened even with his death.

And as far as looking at the size of the Tora Bora region – it’s not like, as some bloggers here seem to think, like driving up to the Cave of the Winds and saying “see that section from there to there? That’s Tora Bora.” Which, when one compares it to where we think OBL may now be – Waziristan – or other locations, well, do an overlay of area encompassed and one can understand why Obama hasn’t killed him, either.

RW-(the original)

September 23rd, 2010
10:00 am

that ONE particular quote — from those who haven’t even read the book no less

Bosch,

The book doesn’t come out until the 27th. I cautioned earlier that it isn’t a good idea to analyze quotes a publisher put out before release, but it’s kind of crazy to ridicule people who choose to do so because they haven’t read a book that they can’t even get.

USinUK

September 23rd, 2010
10:01 am

“We need another surge. You wanna win you need to dominate”

you do realize we paid off the sunni resistance groups, don’t you.

Del

September 23rd, 2010
10:02 am

jm,

I have not read the book either, however, it has been largely reported that he did make that statement and there’s been no denial from the White House. Perhaps he just made a poor choice of words at the moment but it didn’t come across particularly well and certainly not a reasoned statement from an American president.

Bosch

September 23rd, 2010
10:02 am

“President’s haven’t believed anything CIA says since probably the 70’s onward.”

So, jm, if they don’t believe the CIA then…..ahem…..WHY INVADE A COUNTRY BASED ON WHAT THEY SAID? OR AT LEAST WAIT AND SEE IF THE INFORMATION IS REAL???????? Either way, they are the biggest dumb asses in American history.