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  • Top Ten Questions and Answers on Obama's Strategy in Afghanistan

    1. If the President sends 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan, does that count as a “surge?”

    Simply put, no, because the use of that term implies an Iraq-like strategy of ramping up forces to the maximum of what the generals are requesting. It has been widely reported that General McChrystal’s assessment for additional troops to achieve maximum chance of success was between 60,000 and 80,000 troops. While the President’s decision is better than no new troops at all, it falls short of that assessment. Additionally, the White House plans to add troops over time as it sees fit, and not necessarily “surge” forces for maximum affect. We hope that the President’s far riskier strategy succeeds. If it does not, we must remember the options he had available to him before this decision. He had the chance to turn this war around; if he does not, the result will be his responsibility alone.

    2. Is tonight’s announcement of a strategy the result of a thoughtful, deliberative process?

    The delay in making a decision is inexcusable. Given that President Obama has been in office over 10 months; was privy to extensive briefings on the Afghan situation before that; the many months General McChrystal has been on the job; and the critical situation on the ground, the delay has put the mission and American soldiers in graver jeopardy. If McChrystal originally asked for 40,000 troops, as the White House would like you to believe, it is incomprehensible to believe that it took many months to simply lower that number by 5,000.

    3. Even some Republicans are starting to question whether we should be in Afghanistan at all, if we’re not prepared to win by all means necessary. Is that the alternative choice?

    No, this is a false choice. We must win. This is not an “optional” war in which a pull out will be cost free. A pull out will be exceedingly dangerous to the nation, possibly leading not only to another 9/11 but also to the destabilization and the possible fall of Pakistan. We should never forget that Pakistan has nuclear weapons.

    4. Isn’t any opposition to the President’s strategy simply partisan bickering, and more importantly, shouldn’t we rally around the Commander in Chief during this critical time?

    We want President Obama and his strategy to succeed. There may be a natural impulse to argue to “give the President’s plan a chance.” While we respect our military and civilian leadership’s views, the ultimate test of strategy is success on the battlefield. There is absolutely no partisan element to the purely military calculation that success would be achieved with less risk if the President sent in the requested 60,000 to 80,000 new troops and fully committed to the strategy without engaging in a blueprint for defeat even if veiled as an “exit strategy.”

    5. How long does the President have before his strategy can be viewed as a success or failure?

    It takes months to transfer the military personnel and resources to the theatre before any measurement of success can be taken. That’s what makes the President’s delayed decision-making all the more inexcusable. In the meantime, al-Qaeda and the Tailban will likely do everything in their power to match the U.S. buildup, drive up U.S. military casualties, attack civilian aid, kill innocents in Pakistan and attack the Pakistan government and military to create the impression that the war cannot be won. In particular, they will aim their actions to inflame the “anti-war” movement in the United States. We should remember this when any increase in violence in the months ahead prompts knee-jerk calls to withdraw.

    6. President Obama has been criticized for focusing on an “exit strategy” win or lose, but isn’t an open ended commitment simply nation-building? Don’t we have to leave at some point, and won’t that be announced regardless?

    Telegraphing our exit to al-Qaeda will only lead to further questioning US resolve. The strategy of building capacity for Afghans to govern themselves is not open-ended or “nation-building,” which implies some fruitless undertaking, but intended to help the Afghans to build the capacity to defend themselves (and to keep the Taliban and al-Qaeda from establishing safe havens) so that we can bring U.S. troops home. This is an achievable goal; after all, it was achieved in Iraq. The ultimate purpose is to protect American lives and interests, not simply to do good for the Afghan people.

    7. General McChrystal is likely to say he can achieve some necessary goals with the President’s announcement; will President Obama’s strategy give him the resources to make this reality?

    It remains to be seen whether the troop request will be sufficient. We hope it will be. In the meantime, the basic concept of McChrystal’s strategy is sound. The U.S. must reduce the space in Afghanistan for the Taliban to operate; and it must also build the capacity of the Afghan government to serve and secure the safety of the people. All that requires additional boots on the ground, and the more the sooner, the better. While 30,000 troops is a start, we should remember McChrystal’s original assessment of 60,000-80,000.

    8. Senior Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee are saying that if we simply had captured Osama Bin Laden in 2001, this war could have been averted or successfully cut short – is this true?

    Absolutely not, and the mere idea reflects a mindset that left us vulnerable to terrorism in the first place. Even if Osama Bin Laden had been captured or killed, there were thousands of al-Qaeda lieutenants willing to take his place. The U.S. has successfully killed or captured many of them in the past 8 years. Add to that a Taliban government in Afghanistan that was willing to safely harbor terrorist training camps and fund operations against the West. Even President Obama has called this a “war of necessity.”

    Defeating the Taliban, destroying al-Qaeda and establishing an Afghanistan that can govern and look after its own people are in the vital interests of the United States. The alternative risks genocide in Afghanistan, a resurgent al-Qaeda, a return to pre-9/11 threat, and a destabilization of a region that could lead to war between India and Pakistan, both of whom have nuclear weapons.

    9. Isn’t sending 30,000 troops to Afghanistan a continuation of the “small footprint” strategy that many criticized President Bush and Secretary Rumsfeld for employing?

    Yes. The same people who now support limiting our troop commitment to Afghanistan, or focusing on drone strikes were criticizing the last administration for not being forceful enough at the outset of the war, even before the war with Iraq had begun. Simply put, the small footprint strategy has been proven not to work, and does not lessen the view of terrorists that we are “occupying” their land. And it often leads to bad intelligence which makes surgical strikes not so surgical, adding to the propaganda efforts of the enemy.

    10. Is cost an issue? Haven’t we spent enough on these wars, when people are losing jobs, the domestic economy is suffering and our debt is so high?

    Preventing another 9-11 should be, by anyone’s definition, a top strategic objective of the United States, and thus should also be a top budgetary priority. How does one put a price on the lives lost on that tragic day? Winning the war in Afghanistan is part of the strategy of preventing a similar disaster from occurring again. It should categorically take precedence over new Cash for Clunkers programs, new stimulus bills, new global warming programs and new bailouts. Unlike these dubious programs, providing for the national defense is a constitutionally mandated function of the national government, its primary reason for being.

    Yet, President Obama has spent his first year in office spending at an unprecedented rate while cutting major defense programs. With the national debt now topping $12 trillion, the White House estimates the annual interest to exceed $700 billion a year in 2019, up from $202 billion this year, even if annual budget deficits shrink drastically. An additional $500 billion a year in interest expense would total more than the combined federal budgets this year for education, energy, homeland security and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. So in perspective, Afghanistan strategy sessions are not the meetings the OMB Director should be spending his time in.

    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    28 Responses to Top Ten Questions and Answers on Obama's Strategy in Afghanistan

    1. J.P.McFadden, Walnut says:

      Why are neo-cons like Holmes and Carafano so afraid of a bunch of backward, uneducated, fanatics with box-cutters? Al-Qaeda and 911 could have been stopped with decent locks on the cockpit doors — which are now in place. Why should we spend hundreds of billions more to track down a few Al-Qaeda? Isn't a trillion dollars on these wars enough? The Taliban are living in the stone age — they can't be a serious threat. The only reason to keep the wars going is to keep the flow of money going to the military industrial complex — just as Eisenhower warned. If neo-cons really wanted to shut down Al-Qaeda, they should work on stopping the flow of money from Saudi Arabia. Instead they rattle their sabers screaming that we can't afford to lose, while simultaneously being so myopic that they can't see that the country is hemorrhaging from its debt. Holmes and Carafano should climb out of their pretend world and read something useful and prescient like Blowback by Chalmers Johnson. Its time to end these middle-east Vietnams.

    2. Popblogger, Florida says:

      McFadden is right: "the country is hemorrhaging from its debt," but the hemorrhaging is not being caused by an increase in defense spending, and he must know that. His comment: "If neo-cons really wanted to shut down Al-Qaeda, they should work on stopping the flow of money from Saudi Arabia," ignores the fact that Democrats are ones in charge of the purse strings.

    3. Trey, Texas says:

      If we aren't willing to win, then I would say "YES" pulling our troops back home is the alternative. If we are willing to win and put the necessary resources on the ground to help the troops win, then the best strategy is to win, not pull out. I'd prefer the latter, but if we don't have the will to win, then there really is no reason to continue to put troops in harms way.

      If we elected Fred Thompson President, then we would have won this war by now!

    4. Bill, Forney, TX says:

      To Mr. McFadden's point,one of our government's actual responsibilities is defense of the populus. That point aside, if he believes that buying jobs with tax dollars is its responsibility, then the cost per soldier "job" is still much less than the cost per stimulus job our brainiac president and his cabinet claim to have created. As for the military industrial complex, let's not forget the cash-for-clunkers program (which should be having a detrimental affect on the auto industry about now) cost in excess of $20,000/car to administer (though the consumer gained substantially less benefit than that). The military still trumps government programs in getting bang-for-the-buck with the added benefit of actually achieving its objective.

    5. Lloyd Scallan - New says:

      J.P. McFaydden – Although I somewhat agree with you on the need for the war in Afghanistan, I certaily cannot agree with your naive opinion on the Taliban and Al-Qaeda as "backwards, uneducated", box-cutter wielding fanatics. For sure they are "fanatics", but very well trained and well funded fanatics that were educated enough to learn to fly jet airliners into the World Trade Towers and kill nearly 3,000 people. Most of us realize we cannot destroy all of these

      terrorist fanatics, but we cannot just sit and wait, then be forced to fight them on our soil.

    6. Michael, Oklahoma says:

      Yes, J.P.; because all terrorist attacks have been committed or attempted with only box knives. Right?

      Certainly the terrorists have never managed to use bombs and rockets on anyone! They merely throw sticks and poop!

    7. Ben C., Ann Arbor says:

      J.P.McFadden;

      If you haven't I suggest you read "Unveiling Islam" to understand the basis of the war. Just as the Crusades were the response to the invasion of Islam into Western Europe our battle with Al-Quaeda is the response to 911. Radical Islam is relentless. Read the book.

    8. Tim Az says:

      Moa-Bama's strategy is to slowly supply US troops to the Taliban and Al-Queada for target practice. By sacrificing the blood of our soldiers he believes he can create a majority of Americans who will demand an end to this war that he does not want to win. We must not allow him to wash his hands of the blood of our soldiers. These are our sons and daughters, husbands and wives, and our mothers and fathers who's blood he offers up for his own cause. He must be made to carry their blood for as long as he lives.

    9. Pingback: killer of 4 non-black cops starts sentence in Hell today; no parole possible; was cop killer a racist? « VotingFemale Speaks!

    10. Freedom of Speech, T says:

      Dear JP,

      I read Mr. Holmes and Carafano's article somewhat differently than you. It was a good article with good points.

      What is with the neocon remarks?

      People that are realists and accept we live in a dangerous world where people hate us. People that are rightfully concerned that history does repeat itself if we do not learn from it.

      I thought all Americans, no matter their political party, were concerned about national security.

      Hemorrhaging money? With what this administration and congress are doing, you can't be serious.

      With what the politicians in Sacramento are doing, you can't be serious.

    11. Blair Franconia, NH says:

      During the campaign, Obama called Iraq "the bad war." He, and other Democrats, (Appeaseocrats, called Iraq a war of choice.) Those same Democrats who called Iraq a war of choice, called Afghanistan, a war of necessity. WRONGO! Afghanistan, using the Democrats' strange, perverted, and twisted, logic, is now Obama's war of choice. He's chosen to

      not to choose. He's chosen to snatch defeat from the jaws of

      victory.

    12. Lou, Texas says:

      I don't understand where General McChrystal’s request for 60,000 – 80,000 more troops came from. The number that I have heard mentioned many times was that he had requested an additional 40,000 – 45,000 troops.

    13. Pingback: Top Ten Questions and Answers on Obama’s Strategy in Afghanistan «

    14. George C. Werth says:

      Sadly, President Obama is clueless, similar to Pridident G.W. Bush with respect to the war(s)

      in Afghanistan; they refused/refuse to listen to experienced military experts and an experienced, knowlegeable cadre of Officers in our Department of State's Foreign Service Corp ~[not the many,

      hangers on in the DoS that have been around, 'serving' a number of past adminis-

      trations.

      GCW

    15. George C. Werth says:

      Sadly, President Obama is clueless, similar to President G.W. Bush with respect to the war(s)

      in Afghanistan; they refused/refuse to listen to experienced military experts and an experienced, knowlegeable cadre of Officers in our Department of State's Foreign Service Corp ~[not the many,

      hangers on in the DoS that have been around, 'serving' a number of past adminis-

      trations.

      GCW

    16. Pingback: Dick Cheney: Obama giving aid and comfort to the enemy | The Lonely Conservative

    17. R Minear Kansas says:

      President Obama is so against the war now, why did he keep voting money for it when he was a Senator? He could blame someone else for it and not be responsible. Now he is responsible and cannot make a decision without 32 Czars. He didn't need 32 Czars to come up with the health tax bill. Strange isn't it?

    18. Earl Visser says:

      Thank God the Heritage provides a reasoned opinion in this worldly discussion. I pray for a Christian mind that allows the purpose for the human spices to be in this world.

    19. Neoavatara, Columbus says:

      Obama is making the only decision any rational President can make in this situation. Hopefully, he will be steadfast, because the liberal attacks will begin immmediately.
      http://neoavatara.com/blog/?p=8983

    20. sean ft. lauderdale says:

      i am hoping that mcchrystal pulled a rope a dope on the president saying he needs 60-80k so that he could get 30k and get the job done

    21. liz, NC says:

      Everytime I read or hear someone talk like JP my blood boils. Most people who talk like this usually have never left America. It is bad enough they don't understand how special their country and it's people are, but they seem to think that because someone lives in a cave their stupid. If he had talked to any soldier who was been in Afganistan he would know that some of these ignorant nomads had electricity in their caves!

      As to the neocon comment. Thank God for men and women who are willing to protect this country. When you visit other countries, it doesn't take long to see that people can be very self centered and uninterested in the well being of even there own countrymen. Some countries believe life has no value at all. We tend to fight not only for the well being of ourselves but for our neighbors as well. In a world where neighborhoods are being attacked by gangs and drug crazies, you would have to have your head buried in the sand not to think you weren't going to have to fight for what is yours.

    22. Marianne Hattiesbur says:

      There will be "Wars and rumors of war" in this part of the world, until God is ready to return and take care of this total mess the world has been creating since the Garden of Eden. I believe VERY much in HIS word as found in the Bible. I for one am ready anytime God is ready,,,,of course we will not know the time which is also in the Bible.

    23. THE CAPTAIN New Orle says:

      So the President says he is going to somewhat listen to his generals and send 30,000 more troops. But in the same breath he says we are going to get out of there in 2011 no matter what happens. It is going to take until summer of 2009 to get the build-up in there. He never really talked about winning. This is certainly not the kind of speech that makes the troops say: "My leader has spoken. He is right. I will follow him anywhere." This was not inspirational. Where is the Obama the Orator that the media keeps talking about. It makes me believe that his heart is not in this fight, but politically he feels he needs to do it. The President needs to either be whole-heartedly go for it or get out. Instead he is playing with lives of the troops, and the reputation of the USA. What a guy!

    24. Tim Az says:

      The public school system has failed JP Mcfadden. Answer to your question is we must win this war because next door is Pakistan whom have nuclear weapons. We can not allow the Taliban or Al-Qeada to take control of Pakistan and their nuclear weapons. Pretending these terrorists only know how to use box cutters is intelectually lazy and a dangerous thought pattern that would allow for the possibility that megadeaths could be carried out buy your box cutter freinds in America and the rest of the world. Then again maybe you like the smell of carrion in the morning.

    25. Catherine NV says:

      I posted this today on my facebook…

      In my humble opinion this war is misunderstood by many. It is about Afghanistan and the Taliban but that is not the whole story. A few months ago a Pakistan military facility was infiltrated by militants and this is not the first time. Pakistan is a nuclear country with nuclear weapons sitting next to Afghanistan and Iran.. It doesn't take a lot of thought to see the problem. The many that want our troops out must look at the problem, let's say our troops pull out today and Pakistan sits there all alone, how long would it take before the enemy entered Pakistan? Remember Pakistan has nuclear weapons.

      What scenario can you see?

    26. Carol, AZ says:

      It took ten years to build the N.Y.City World Trade Centers.

      It took 10 seconds for the world to watch them implode.

      The after shock was felt as far away as Maine.

      Last month another Al-Queada CELL WAS BROKEN UP IN the State of Co, with other cells linked to N.Y and N.J.

      Very little information regarding this major news story was reported by our convoluted main stream press.

      The reality is;

      This is a highly financed, highly trained, highly organized enemy in our oun back yard, an in the world.

      Few Americans fail to understand this unless they have a military background or they just don't want to think about it.

      To date, it has been reported that 28 countries have been attacked by terrorism.

      We, with England, an a few U N troops are the only major powers that have put "boots on the ground" to thwart this very real treat .

      We MUST in-list other countries toward this combined effort.

      The Sec. of State has been doing this recently. However I'm not certain what the out-come has been from other countries.

      Maybe someone else out there is more informed regarding this out-come.

      We must insist that other countries get involved sending their troops; Special OP's units, in a unified force.

      Will our involvement in AF. bring Democracy to this region as some Americans believe.

      Certainly not.

      It is a system of GOV'T based on tribual laws, kick-backs, bribes with corrupt leadership on all levels.

      What it will do, is stablize an area of the world that is a tinder box and breeding ground for one of the biggest treats in our world today on all levels.

      I do support the decison to send additional trooops to AF.

      But as stated, we must insist that 28 other countries stand with us.

    27. Evan, Anchorage says:

      We can not win in Afghanistan long term with out winning in Pakistan. To really win long term in both is probably not going to happen.

    28. Karen Hawkins says:

      It seems there is no progress. The only progress here is our men and women being killed. These people have fought for hundreds of years and will continue to do so. Pull the troops out and let the Afghans have at each other. Protect our own borders. Get some SENSE!!!!

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