What's turning Obama's back to most Americans?

P111209PS-0458, originally uploaded by The White House.

The desicion has been made, we'll escalate our involvement in Af-vietnam-istan...

David A. Stevenson
Bethel, Connecticut

Is it my imagination, or did Presidential candidate Barack Obama pledge to wind down the occupation of Iraq - in order to take care of Afghanistan properly. He properly noted that the Bush administration had failed to complete the mission in Afghanistan.

He is carrying out those campaign pledges. Why is everyone so surprised?

I voted for him - knowing that this was his pledge. I don't understand why others who voted for him are now surprised. Do you think John McCain and Sarah Palin would have done better ? If you do, I suspect you might consider cutting back on your LSD intake.

My take on Afghanistan - from before the election - was that we can only succeed in Afghanistan if we get full cooperation from other nations throughout the world. If America and our President do not get that complete cooperation - then we should pull out of Afghanistan, before what happens to the Soviet Union also happens to us.

Let's allow our President the latitude he deserves now - then comment later.

New York

Man!, this so deja vu! No clear idea of what we do going in and even more clueless as what will happen to tell us when to get out.

We are fighting an enemy that is an ally and proxy of our 'ally' (Pakistan). The money and arms we give our ally only find their way to our enemy. Is this any way to fight a war?

To get Pakistan's cooperation, we are forced to threaten them periodically with more money and arms (!). It's almost pythonesque: "If you don't do as we say, we'll bombard you with money and guns and you'll be sorry!"

Look, it's real simple: 1. Take the nukes away from Pakistan. This immediately and automatically makes them punch in their own weight class and nervous about 'sub conventional' or 'asymmetric' warfare; 2. Free the Baluchis from their Punjabi oppressors and open up a land route to Afghanistan.

On the nukes, right now we're only looking at 50-60. In five years that number will double and eventually we'll have to take them out anyway.

On Baluchistan, the Khan of Kalat was forced into joining Pakistan so independence is not a new concept for them.

It's not that we can't win in Afghanistan WITHOUT Pakistan. It's that we can't win WITH Pakistan.

Richard S
Novato, California

Obama said he would escalate the war during the campaign, so no one should be surprised here. However, it's up to the Chinese to authorize the expenditure, and they'll likely be happy to do it, because it further reduces our imperial capabilities and puts us further under the sway of our debtors. Lacking the insight and courage to face up to a losing situation and walk away, Obama will likely commit the US to another trillion dollar expenditure plus the suffering of the tens of thousands of soldiers who will sustain life-long mental and physical injuries. And in the end the Taliban (though probably not Al Queda) will own this country because -- guess what? -- they live there and we don't. End of story. Shame on Obama and all the legislators who vote for the DOD war appropriations. This is a massive mistake.

B. Mull
Irvine, CA

It is true that Obama said during the campaign that Afghanistan was the "right" war. I mostly agreed with him at the time. But a year later the country wants to move on, not double down. The war to capture bin laden and shut down the terror camps is over. What was perhaps a war of necessity is now a divisive war of empire. It is a tragic error that will ruin many lives and destroy any remaining hope that Obama would put our country on a better path.


One million dollars. That’s the figure we’re told it costs per soldier per year in Afghanistan. Is there some evil specter in the White House that can turn a bright man into a glass eyed fool? Is it the water in white house sink? Can someone please walk into the oval office (it shouldn’t be too difficult) take hold of the young man sitting there and shake him by the shoulders and say snap out of it! What are you doing man?! Rome is burning!

Scott Moore
Seattle, WA

Remember Nixon said he would get us out of Vietnam, and then we went into Cambodia. So now we're getting out of Afghanistan by escalating. I believe I've seen this before. I was younger then, but I still remember it well.

I hope this time will be different, but I can't imagine why it would be.

If I were president I'd bring those troops home and put 10,000 of them on the Mexican border. That's one tenth the troops we plan for Afghanistan, and it would mean three soldiers per mile of border. Take some of those recon planes and have them patrol our coasts. Take some more troops and have the army corps of engineers work on our failing international highways and decrepit railway system.

This would cost us far less than the war in Afghanistan and all the money spent to support the troops would benefit the economy here, as well as our own infrastructure. We might even get out of the economic crisis at the same time.

Our security and economic well being need to start here in the US, not in some hill of sand and rock thousands of miles away. Let Pakistan and Afghanistan wallow in their own mire and muck without our military aid. That money benefits the military industrial complex, not the American people.

Think people. Think...


Glenn Greenwald said...

The most bizarre defense of Obama's escalation is also one of the most common: since he promised during the campaign to escalate in Afghanistan, it's unfair to criticize him for it now -- as though policies which are advocated during a campaign are subsequently immunized from criticism. For those invoking this defense: in 2004, Bush ran for re-election by vowing to prosecute the war in Iraq, keep Guantanamo open, and "reform" privatize Social Security. When he won and then did those things (or tried to), did you refrain from criticizing those policies on the ground that he promised to do them during the campaign? I highly doubt it.

Anonymous said...

Chico, CA

Words cannot express my disappointment in the president's decision. Coming on the heels of his inaction on so many things that were implicitly promised last year (Gitmo, Don't Ask Don't Tell, an urgent green jobs effort and more) and the sellout to Wall Street and the banksters at the expense of nearly everyone else, it has pushed me out of the "give him time, he inherited a mess" camp to the "apparently, no we can't" camp. I've dropped my 40-year Democratic registration to go unaffiliated. I am deeply, deeply saddened to feel this way, but, as I sat watching him speak in the bowels of the military cult, saying things that W could just as easily have said, telling us that we're going to pacify Afghanistan, eradicate al Queda AND the Taliban, and leave a stable, sustainable modern state there, I went from sadness to anger to disgust. Something just snapped, and I'll never listen to him the same way again.

The slightest reading into the facts about that misbegotten place makes it obvious that he cannot accomplish what he laid out. We're backing a government and security apparatus that is utterly dominated, tribally, by a 25% Tajik minority. The Taliban are Pashtun, 42% of the population, and their resentment at being dominated by an even smaller minority simply feeds anti-American anger. No one at the top seems to grasp this, or, if they do, to speak and think honestly about its implications.

The generals and big money OWN him and his decision making. His party is rotting from within via the Blue Dog revolt, and I no longer believe that we will see anything recognizable as progressive with his top advisers kowtowing to what are essentially moderate Republicans (I know, extinct species, but this is what they used to be) and giving ground again and again on health care.

The Glenn Becks and the Tea Party psychos are winning the battle despite numbers in the teens at best. It's a failure of resolve and vision. We expected more, and our troubled land desperately deserves better, but Congress is bought and paid for, and that's the end of that.

Who knows what might have been if he had stood up for what he sold us last year instead of going along to get along. Some bully pulpit....

D. Gundun, Washington DC said...

Plenty of arguments exist to oppose escalation in Afghanistan, but one of the best comes from the White House itself. One day after President Obama's speech, Homeland Security Adviser Janet Napolitano admitted that Obama has yet to formulate a strategy beyond Afghanistan and Pakistan. The day after that, National Security Adviser James Jones said al-Qaeda officials are relocating to Somalia and Yemen, among other safe havens. So just as he's arguing the necessity of destroying al-Qaeda in Pakistan, his officials are saying they're moving out of Pakistan. Obama's strategy has always been full of holes, but now even his PR is breaking down. One would think, if he knew what he was doing, that the last 10 months would be dramatically different from what they've been - a complete mess with little hope in sight.

www.hadalzone.blogspot.com for the latest foreign policy

Hugo Pirovano, Beverly Hills said...

Obama can be logical, and he is intelligent. It is not a question of either. It is a matter of his sincerity, and of our stupidity.

How logical and sincere is the president when he says: "the American people were viciously attacked from Afghanistan"? He knows that not one of the 9/11 hijackers were Afghans. He knows they were mainly recruited from Hamburg mosques, not from Afghanistan. He knows they were not trained in Afghanistan but in Florida and Oklahoma, that none of the planners was an Afghan; nor were the plan's mastermind, KSM, or its financier, OBL, none were Afghans.

Osama bin Laden was sheltered in Afghanistan, by the Taliban, when he wrote the checks that funded 9/11. But he was sheltered by Sudan when he wrote the checks for operations in Egypt and the destruction of the Khobar Towers in Dhahran. Does that mean, the Sudan attacked Egypt or Saudi Arabia?

It would indeed be possible for al-Qaeda to operate from locals other than Afghanistan or Pakistan. From Somalia or Yemen for example. Conceivably, Osama could sneak into this country via Mexico and be writing his checks for the next 9/11 from a safe house in Brooklyn. Would that mean, Brooklyn attacked the United States?

Sure, Sudan's strong man Omar al-Bashir was sympathetic to Osama bin Laden, the Taliban were sympathetic to him. Yes both Karthoum and Kabul, and indirectly, Islamabad, recklessly, irresponsibly, sheltered a wild card, but they did not attack Egypt, Saudi Arabia, or the United States. And more importantly, putting a lid on those countries will not put a lid on terrorism.

The president, and his secretary of State imply that it will. They say, Afghanistan/Pakistan are the epicenter of terrorism. They know better. They know that the 7/7 London bombings and the Madrid train bombing was unconnected to al-Qaeda. They know that most, if not all, of the subsequent terrorist plots that have been discovered and scotched had no connection to Afghanistan/Pakistan. Last Sunday a train between Moscow and St. Petersburg was blown up by Muslim terrorists. The perpetrators had no link to al-Qaeda.

Barack Obama waves the bogeyman of terrorism to sell his war in Afghanistan, just as George Bush sold the invasion of Iraq by waving the danger of WMD. The difference is that Bush sincerely believed that Sadam had WMD, all of his intelligence services said so, and Europe's too. But Obama knows that terrorism will continue even if the Taliban is defeated, all of the experts tell him so.

Why then did Obama make the speech he made last Tuesday?

Because in July 2008 he said, "As president, I will make the fight against al-Qaeda and the Taliban the top priority that it should be." ... "This is a war that we have to win" and vowed to send at least two more combat brigades to Afghanistan.

In short this grave decision, so long agonized over and deeply researched was actually made quckily and suddenly in the course of an election campaign. Candidate Obama was being embarrassed by favorable news from Iraq, a war he had previously said was unwinnable, and a surge which he had prophesied, would only make matters worse. To wipe the egg off his face he turned the tables on the Republicans, accused them of neglecting Afghanistan and promised to make that theater the central front in the war on terror and fight to win. That is how we came to Tuesday's agonizing decision. It was rooted in a campaign ploy, to win the votes of the hawks.

Such is the logic of President Obama, and the lack of his sincerity, and our stupidity for buying it all.

Anonymous said...

San Francisco CA

Why do columnists keep talking about Obama's "formidable intellect"? Because he can finish a sentence and W couldn't? I have not heard one pronouncement from that man, either from the campaign trail or the White House, that makes me think he has anything more than an apple pie face and an average intelligence. None of his speeches--or policies--have any depth. He's just a politician, an empty suit. When you reporters start realizing this we'll have a more honest and realistic assessment of our situation.

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