30
Nov
09

On air: Has President Obama got it right on Afghanistan?

US President Barack Obama has issued new orders for the US military in Afghanistan, he is set to formally announce that a further 30,000 troops are to be sent to Afghanistan in a televised address on Tuesday.

This comes as British PM Gordon Brown said he would send 500 more soldiers to the country taking the number of British troops there to 10,000.

This article asks whether Americans will buy into President Obama’s Afghanistan strategy.

It has been called a “political gamble” that is hoped to path the way for an exit from Afghanistan.

Whilst some hope that it could be the defining moment in Obama’s presidency others argue that sending more troops would be a mistake.  This article says that during the talks on Sunday, politicians were already bursting with advice, doubt, and scepticism about the as-yet-unknown plan.

Do to you think more troop swill solve the problem in Afghanistan?  Or is sending more troops a mistake? Will this be the defining moment in Obama’s presidency?


132 Responses to “On air: Has President Obama got it right on Afghanistan?”


  1. 1 Mike in Seattle
    November 30, 2009 at 19:49

    There better be an actual plan to end these wars, and a plan that will have real benchmarks before President Obama is up for reelection in 2012. That’s the only way I can remotely support the expansion of this war.

    • 2 carol sherman
      December 1, 2009 at 19:58

      When president Barack Obama was campaigning he was clear that he would root out Bin Ladin and the Taliban in Afgansistan and Pakistan. He is keeping sight of the ball and remembering to go after and get the perpetraitors of 911.

      • 3 Daniel
        December 1, 2009 at 20:09

        Absolutely right Carol! Afghanistan is indeed a “war of necessity” – US was attacked by terrorists harbored by Afghan Taliban regime and using militant jihadist ideology to fuel hatred to the US and Western democracies. This war is unfortunately taking much more time and even more unfortunately more lives than planned – but on the other hand if US pulls out now (just to please leftists like Michael Moore etc who do not care about US Security) – MORE lives will be lost, mostly civilian by Taliban guerrillas, and Afghanistan would truly become a failed state. It is time to stop a Utopian outlook at the situation with radicalized Islam in the world and get to tough but necessary actions to ensure safety of US, Afghan and other civilians whoi are threatened by these forces.

      • 4 Aaron Mickey
        December 23, 2009 at 22:43

        Ok, this is long over due and we need some resolution in afghanistan instead of searching for oil in the middle east I think personally its a good move and will pay off… Regardless if you agree with the presidents decision or support it, you have to support the troops!!

  2. 5 Tom K in Mpls
    November 30, 2009 at 19:51

    The number means little. It is what they are doing that decides if this good or bad. If the plan is a total national security blanket, this is bad. The numbers are waaaay to low. If they are securing small areas to help allow Afghanis people to establish the means to resist the Taliban and grow on their own, this could be good. It is the strategy, the goals, that matter.

  3. 6 Patrick in Vancouver
    November 30, 2009 at 20:14

    We have little hope of prevailing in this conflict by escalating the violence. We are increasing the potential for more death and destruction. This will not solve any problem or protect us in any meaningful way. It will only serve to inflame, agitate and motivate our enemies.

    We cannot win this confrontation as occupiers. Even containment of the threat is unlikely in the foreseeable future. We may be better off leaving the region and letting it become whatever it will.

    I have little hope for the world with regard to our ability to survive and thrive given the political realities that exist today. It’s so depressing.

  4. 7 Tom D Ford
    November 30, 2009 at 20:31

    Just what is “the problem” in Afghanistan?

    An old engineers saying is “When you define the problem and you define the solution”.

    • December 1, 2009 at 08:28

      You have got it dead rght, Tom.

      Not only engineers used this piece of wise guidance, Terry Shelton a legendary Metropolitan Police Officer, and later a Chief Inspector in the B.T. Police, taught his students, “Ask the right questions, to obtain the right answers.

      Also,” To solve any problem at all, look back in time to when the problem did not exist, move forward in time to locate and fix it.”

      John Major almost got it right, with “Back to Basics” but he had never received the benefit of a full lesson from the master himself and did not really understand the one he was preaching.

      Terry previously one of the heroic Marines who blew up the Nazi submarine base in Norway in the war, is no longer with us but he can be seen on Dave Brown’s website, “U.K. Police Dogs.”

  5. 9 Cassandra (Salem, OR, USA)
    November 30, 2009 at 20:38

    Happy to kick off this discussion. As an American, my gut response to this is not to combine the situation in Afghanistan with Iraq. Iraq has been and continues to be a deeply unpopular war; however, part of its unpopularity is wrapped up in the perception by the public that Afghanistan was abandoned for the sake of Iraq, and that therefore the central reason for going into Afghanistan–a mixture of justice and preventative measures with regard to 9/11–was also neglected.

    There is a sense, I believe, in which many Americans feel a lack of closure for the events of 9/11. Should we return to Afghanistan to gain that? Not necessarily, not when the cause is rooted in religious extremism that exists as much in our own country as any other.

    However, regardless of what other possibilities we might now pursue in response to 9/11, we went into Afghanistan. We remade a government, we interfered in the lives of the people there with an understandably mixed reception. It was wrong to then abandon all focus on that decision. I feel that President Obama is making a fair decision by sending troops to Afghanistan, that it is what most people expected, and it is the responsible thing to do.

    What I do NOT want to hear is that this is an American effort alone. The religious extremism represented by the Taliban is something the whole world can and should be prepared to face. On the same token, the people who have joined the Taliban have done so reasonably in all likelihood–what are those reasons? What is encouraging them to choose that life? Do we know those things? Can the American government do more to understand the other forces involves and act on THOSE rather than purely by flexing a military muscle?

    I trust President Obama in a way I did not trust President Bush. I expect him to make a measured decision, taking the above questions into account, and not to ignore the rest of the world in the process. I feel I can say that in all fairness having voted for both men when they ran for office, and without laying the full blame for the mess we’ve made on President Bush (we voted for him; we share the culpability).

    Thanks,
    Cassandra Farrin
    US-UK Fulbright scholar ’08

  6. November 30, 2009 at 20:43

    the success of the troops will depend on the strategy set out, In my view they should train and equip the the Afghan security forces, spread the rit of the Afghan govt to the whole country, build the infrastucture, help fight narcotics, help and pressure Afghan gov’t fight curruption.
    Curruption, poses the biggest problem, si

  7. 11 Tom D Ford
    November 30, 2009 at 20:51

    Oops, my post should read:

    Just what is “the problem” in Afghanistan?

    An old engineers saying is “When you define the problem you define the solution”.

    • 12 gary
      November 30, 2009 at 21:47

      Unfortunately, old engineers have a penchant for taking “wags” (wild-ass guesses) at solutions when problems defy immediate definition. It is certainly to be hoped this doesn’t apply to efforts in Afghanistan (Read: my “hope” tank is nearly empty.).
      g

  8. 13 Bert
    November 30, 2009 at 21:43

    The number 30,000 appears to be politically motivated. Unless you are told what use they would be put to, the number doesn’t mean much.

    I opposed the mission creep to “nation building” in Afghanistan, as I did in Iraq, so I’m not happy with any ideas to drag out the stay. As long as the Afghanis can rely on US and NATO lives to keep their Taliban problem at bay, they will most likely find excuses to keep us there. Even while putting on a good show that we are “occupying forces,” to appease their masses.

    Same problem in Iraq. As I predicted some time ago, the closer we get to our troop withdrawal date, the more the Iraqis will miss the billions of dollars they get free of charge from us, every month. So the excuses are already coming from Iraq why the US might not be able to pull up stakes on schedule.

  9. 14 patti in cape coral
    December 1, 2009 at 00:37

    “Will more troops solve the problem in Afghanistan?”

    Maybe, if there is a good plan in place. I truly hope so.

  10. 15 chris okafor
    December 1, 2009 at 00:54

    He who fights and run away lives to fight another day. more troops more prey for the Taliban to feast on .

  11. 16 Tan Boon Tee
    December 1, 2009 at 04:21

    The British adds 500, the US tops up another 35000. The combined forces would be inflated to 200,000 soon. This means for almost every 150 Afghans, there will be a foreign soldier “guarding their safety”.

    Will this “surge” work? It could be hard and too soon to tell. Your guess is as good as mine. Somehow, those hawks know best.

  12. 17 Gary Paudler
    December 1, 2009 at 05:46

    What problem? No government outside Kabul? A kleptocracy inside Kabul? Illiteracy? Overwhelming poverty? No rights for women? Sure, all it takes is more troops. Why did we invade in the first place? No, really. Why are we there now and what would success look like? The accepted formula is that transacting that conflict costs the US $1 million per soldier so 30,000 more soldiers will cost us an additional $30 billion per year. For much less (unless you pay Halliburton to do it) give the Afghans schools, hospitals and a shower every day and they will be our friends forever.

  13. 18 Scott in Washington
    December 1, 2009 at 06:06

    Recently, ousted Afgan MP Malalai Joya came to my campus to speak. Her basic argument was that, since the US occupation, things have only gotten worse. The drug trade has exploded and Afghanistan is now the world capital for opium thanks, she says, to the US removal of the Taliban’s control on Kabul. Joya also stated that the Afgan parliament now is basically jammed with puppets and warlords for the Taliban.

    It seems like nothing has changed and things have only gotten worse. Her solution was to deny a troop surge and let the Afgan people go about solving their problems themselves.

  14. 19 Ronald Almeida
    December 1, 2009 at 08:52

    More troops in Afghanistan will definitely solve the problems.
    The question is whose problems? Afghanistan’s or America’s in particular and the rest of the boot licking west in general?

  15. 20 Elina in Finland
    December 1, 2009 at 09:10

    I’d think that sending more troops to Afghanistan will perhaps help in defeating the insurgency, but only temporarily, and in any case it won’t fully take out Al-Qaeda or Taliban. More troops also mean more lost lives and suffering, and for every killed insurgent or Taliban soldier there will be many more willing to take up arms against the foreign troops and foreigners, and even against their fellow Afghans. In the end, Afghanistan can’t be fixed militarily.

  16. 21 Elina in Finland
    December 1, 2009 at 10:16

    I’d think that sending more troops to Afghanistan will perhaps help in defeating the insurgency, but only temporarily, and in any case it won’t fully take out Al-Qaeda or Taliban. More troops also mean more lost lives and suffering, and for every killed insurgent or Taliban soldier there will be many more fighters willing to take up arms against foreign troops and foreigners, and even against their own fellow Afghans. In the end, Afghanistan can’t be fixed militarily.

  17. 22 Nigel
    December 1, 2009 at 12:10

    Sending additional troops shows that the current crop of leaders are devoid of ideas and are resorting to the “muscle over brain” approach. In the West Taliban represents something you can see, touch and measure. This war is about things that you cannot feel touch and measure and is about belief and the need for the Afghans to have their country free of Christian occupation. This will not go away and will continue to reinvent itself based on every inch of military progress made by the guns and bombs brigades of the West.

  18. 23 Ibrahim in UK
    December 1, 2009 at 12:29

    As stated by others, to solve a problem you have to first define it. Is the Taleban winning militarily or is the pro-US government in Kabul losing politically?

  19. 24 Eric in France
    December 1, 2009 at 13:30

    First, you cannot win by means of war against ideas, because these ideas are supposedly given to those rebels by a god. There is no winning game there.

    Second, to win or to solve a problem, you need to identify or set the factors to claim that your objectives are reached. You cannot get that from most politicians including the current US president, because it is politically to risky. However, he and others in Europe will continue that war until their opinion will not be too hostile. It means that, at some point, you ensure your audience that corruption is way down compared to its peak level. That means nothing without numbers attached. You can also claim that police and army are at some point properly trained and equipped. That is again hardly verifiable without prior qualitative and quantitative definitions.

    So, that president needs to show that he is doing something different. But true or not, I am convinced that within months he will start saying that things have improved during campaigns despite what specialists could be saying.

  20. 25 mohamed
    December 1, 2009 at 13:30

    I donot think 30000 troopers will solve Afgan problem and can defeat Taliban but this means more prayers in USA and other NATO goverments.

  21. December 1, 2009 at 13:40

    The Taliban need to be defeated totally. Otherwise the whole region could be in real danger of being infiltrated by al Qaeda and Taliban operatives. Handing the initiative to the terrorists could be the death knell to any sort of peace in the region. The stakes are extremely high. American, British and coalition forces will have to stay in Afghanistan till the region is rid of terrorists who are bent upon spreading their ugly tentacles and spreading mayhem in the region. Concerted efforts in dislodging Taliban and al Qaeda should go uninterrupted and as long as necessary. The security of the region is at stake.

  22. December 1, 2009 at 14:59

    East is east and west is west and never the twain shall meet.(Kipling).Another poet hitting the nail on the head.It seems to me that this latest venture of 30,500 more troops will have to work.If it does not,what is the alternative? Is this a last ditch effort? Or is it the beginning of the end for the Taliban?

  23. 28 Mike in Seattle
    December 1, 2009 at 15:01

    So the BBC has reported that Brown has promised an additional 500 troops, and that eight other nations are on board to help as well. Does anyone know who the other eight nations are, and what they’re adding to the mix?

  24. December 1, 2009 at 15:10

    The troop increase might have some feel good effect for some people, but will it “solve the problem” in Afghanistan? As other brilliant posters above have said, that’s not even the right question. One can no more “defeat” the Taliban than they can defeat White Supremacists. Ideology can not be defeated, especially militarily. I DO support the increase for the sake of the troops there, but believe that ultimately there will be little difference. America has a long history of secretly supporting certain peoples, like the Afghans and Kurds, and abandoning them when needed most. America directly caused this whole affair during the Carter administration, and is DAMN lucky that their horrendous backstabbing in relation to the Kurds hasn’t bit back. Yet. Had America stuck to its guns in both the Afghanistan and Kurdistan issues decades ago, neither would even be in the news.

  25. 30 steve
    December 1, 2009 at 15:25

    I think in a year or so, when the situation is no different, everyone will realize, well, they already do, and just admit, that Afghanistan is a lost cause, doesn’t belong in the 21st century, and is a completely failed state. Just isolate it, and don’t let it harm neighboring countries.

  26. 31 Roy, Washington DC
    December 1, 2009 at 15:29

    We could send 100,000 more troops, and Afghanistan would still have an insurgency problem. It wouldn’t be right to just instantly pull out, but at this point, sending thousands more troops is pointless.

  27. 32 T
    December 1, 2009 at 16:08

    No he doesn’t.

    Obama says we must stop “terrorism”. Is this an organization like the CIA or MI6? No. How come nobody talks about the underlying reasons people are terrorists?

    Because that means talking about ulgy realities like politicians and corporations making lots of money off of this war. Much of the MSM using right-wing think tanks for sources (this includes the BBC). And what about the “benchmarks for success”? How come nobody’s screaming at Obama and saying why do they keep changing every week? In Iraq, the “security forces” have taken 8 years to be trained. And they STILL aren’t ready? Would the U.K. stand for it if the SAS needed 8 years to be trained to do their job? Brown would be laughed out of his job.

    Just watch. Tonight Obama won’t touch on any of this in his speech.

  28. 33 Gary Paudler
    December 1, 2009 at 16:16

    That will be a total of about 100,000 US troops. Our cost for conducting this “war” is about one million dollars per soldier per year. One Hundred Billion Dollars Per Year! ($100,000,000,000) Two billion dollars per week! $285,000,000 per day!
    I remember when a billion bucks was real money.
    Okay, it’s only money and our government is perfectly willing to print whatever it wants. About 400 “coalition” service members have been killed in Afghanistan this year and as many as 30,000 Afghan civilians have died as a direct or indirect result of the war since our invasion. Once more: What is this for?

  29. December 1, 2009 at 16:24

    US has caught the tiger by the tail.The problem is not going to be solved unless people of the country decide to do away with Taliban about which they are yet to make up their mind.Ultimately US has to leave with mission not accomplished.Why not leave now and spare soldiers?

  30. December 1, 2009 at 16:28

    No, he does not. He will never have it right until he stops being “cowed” by the Generals and sets a direct end program with hard and fast dates. We are in a quagmire here. The terrorists, including Osama, have moved on to new areas, and left the U.S. and its allies holding a bag of rats. Get out. Get out now.

  31. 36 Maroclement
    December 1, 2009 at 16:44

    war and politics are synoptic,just that one is accompanied with bloodshed and the is not.Our generational politicians shy away from politics when it matters most,in ordinary sense sending more troops implies war…Let president Obama have a rethink as that will not erase the lingering problems in that area

  32. 37 Roo
    December 1, 2009 at 16:58

    The provision of security through killing insurgents will only have benefits if the Afghan Government is successful in delivering its promised improvements to the people of Afghanistan. This presumes much. Government corruption needs to be reduced if not eliminated. Infrastructure needs to be delivered. Security needs to be maintained.

    As for the surge itself, the military actions in Afghanistan require that Pakistan’s efforts continue. The goal is not the ‘defeat’ of the Taliban, but the assurance that they are no longer effective so the populous will support the group more likely to bring them security – preferably the Government.

    Any illusions about leaving a democratic state behind after leaving Afghanistan should be put aside. Best hope, a fairly peaceful group of bandits who don’t abuse their population and shun radical political philosophy. All else is wishful thinking.

  33. 38 kamalanii
    December 1, 2009 at 16:58

    Obama, have no clue!!! just like this sad administration, he’s a disgrace to the real American’s and our troops!!!

  34. 39 Shannon in Ohio
    December 1, 2009 at 17:06

    Ramanan50 is the only person thus far to even mention the price soldiers are paying. Thank you for doing so.

    Here in the U.S. (I assume the British soldiers are in the same basic place) troops and their families have been pushed to the breaking point by multiple deployments in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Divorce rates have spiked. Returning soldiers are now committing or attempting suicide in alarmingly high numbers, while others who try to seek help for PTSD–as well as physical wounds– are turned away with little treatment from Veteran’s hospitals that are simply unequipped to handle the load.

    How many more families will shatter as a result of this escalation? How many soldiers will return permanently disabled–or in flag-draped caskets? If we send more troops we should be very sure we know why we are doing so. The mission in Afghanistan has never been adequately defined and that fact has led to unending tragedy for both Afghans and the foreign troops stationed there.

    • 40 patti in cape coral
      December 1, 2009 at 18:11

      Speaking of the price that soldiers pay, I heard an NPR story just yesterday about a soldier who came home with half his brain gone. His mother and sister quit their jobs and are basically living in the hospital with him. Apparently this has gone on for years. His mother has learned to care for him and has become an advocate for the families of other soldiers with permanent disabilities. Toward the end of the interview she said that her son never did speak much, but when times were hard he would give her a wink, as if to say “It’s going to be okay.” She said no one will ever know how much she misses that wink. It had to be one of the most hearbreaking things I have every heard. I guess you can’t really think about those kinds of stories when you are making those tough decisions, otherwise you could never send another person’s child to war.

  35. December 1, 2009 at 17:16

    Let us go back in history. When the Russians were in occupancy who was backing the rebels against them? the Americans in the form of the CIA. These rebels are now the Taliban, and yes they are extremists in a religious sense and yes they want to keep the country following the old ways which is not acceptable to western thinking but, I have said before have the people of this backward country really been asked what they want. How you would do this after the debacle of the elections I do not know but I am sure the appearence of more troops will in many cases harden the resolve to rid the country of the invaders, the corrupt will rub their hands at the extra millions of dollars coming into the country including those in the so called govt. The country is made up of tribal factions and warlords with each warlord controlling his part of the country either through the Taliban or corrupt officials in the govt. These people have seen what the Americans did in Iraq and what happened to the Kurds who expected support from the USA which did not come and cost thousands of Kurds lives, so why should they trust them. This could be Obama’s Vietnam unless he has a positive date at which it is time to withdraw with heads held high and not tails between legs

  36. 42 Alan in Arizona
    December 1, 2009 at 17:22

    This will be the decision that pushes this conflict up to the level of stupidity that Vietnam grew to be. Obama’s face will magically come to mind when we initially talk about George W. and he will lowered to the same level as Bush in the history books. Just another disappointing President!

    We don’t need to be there. Pull all the troops from each coalition country out. If we feel a need to be proactive on weapons and opium production, do it with a drone. Blow up anyone with a gun who is not in a Police uniform. Save our troops and save their innocent civilians.

  37. 43 neil
    December 1, 2009 at 17:22

    My understanding is the “government” in Afghanistan is local not central so in Gordon Brown setting the “conditions” for expansion with Mohammed Karzai then foundation is already rocky. The US already seems to understand the need for local power structure analysis and engagement so why nothing from the UK government on this strategy?

  38. 44 Venkat in North carolina
    December 1, 2009 at 17:23

    Unless we have a clear vision and goal, the means to achieve it, in this case the surge, is irrelevant and pointless. If the surge did not work what next?
    Have they even considered that possibility? The Afghan government is grossly inept and clearly manipulating the US and the Allies. This cannot be resolved militarily. The Russians know it too well. Get the Taliban to participate in the government formation involving all the warring tribal factions. This madness has to end.

  39. 45 Irene Heitsch
    December 1, 2009 at 17:23

    This is a far bigger tragedy than the shootings at Fort Hood and is getting much less airtime in the U.S. After Karzai’s sham election, we should pull out. No good ever comes of supporting corrupt dictators. Recall that Sadaam Hussein and Manuel Noriega once had U.S. support. Sooner or later, some U.S. administration is going to tell us that Hamid Karzai is the anti-Christ and we need to take him out at all costs. Our pliant media will pick up the cry. Since we Americans have such short attention spann, we’ll fly our flags and send our kids where they are not wanted once again.

  40. 46 Thomas Murray
    December 1, 2009 at 17:31

    I don’t know if there is a “right” solution to Afghanistan.

    The Afghans claim that when the Taliban kills three US soldiers, the US bombs an entire village. If so, then increasing the military effort is just a sad, tragic business.

    A recently retired state department analyst — who argued for pulling out of Afghanistan completely — said that “the Taliban are fighting us because we’re fighting them.” But my question is, “If we stop fighting them, will they start fighting us?”

    All I really can say is that if we pulled out of Afghanistan completely, it’ll only be a matter of time before al Qaeda sails a home-made nuke into one of our ports and sets it off — and only just to heat things up.

    Freud would say that the Islamic extremists — self-loathing and jealous of Israel’s prefered martyr status — are trying to goad us into giving them a mini-holocaust, just so they can denounce the West for our own arrogance, brutality and intolerance.

    If so, I hope we don’t take the bait.

    Either way, and for so many sorry reasons, this conflict is pointless.

    But that’s the cards we got dealt.

    –Freezing in Louisville, Kentucky, US.

    • 47 Thomas Murray
      December 1, 2009 at 17:33

      That is, I meant to ask, “If we stop fighting the Taliban, will they STOP fighting us?”

      (I don’t know. I mean, what is the answer to that question?)

      –Lou., KY, US.

  41. 48 clamdip
    December 1, 2009 at 18:00

    Everywhere, nearly every country America has fought a war there seems to be one underlying theme, DRUGS. A dictator gets too greedy and doesn’t want to share his spoils so we take ’em out. America has an incredibly long history of this.
    If you want democracy in Afghanistan then build schools, colleges, hospitals and get every able bodied citizen to work and study to improve their lives. The old plunder a nation model just doesn’t work anymore.

  42. 49 Anthony
    December 1, 2009 at 18:01

    We have to stop doing a half job over there. Let’s do it once and do it right.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  43. 50 Mr Jones - UK
    December 1, 2009 at 18:03

    They all have it wrong, hasn’t the US learned from its mistakes that sending more troops does not work.

    US and UK forces are fighting an unconventional war with conventional methods against a force that was previously armed and trained by US and UK forces.

    Afghanistan has never been beaten, as far back as Alexander the Great,each invader that has tried has left,including more recently the Russians.

    They say that sending more troops in will help them achieve their goal which is denying Al’quida the ability to set up training camps there. Do they really beleive that this will stop them, training camps can be built any where in the world as long as money and land is available even in their own back yard.

    Do the US really beleive that what they are doing will stop them.

    The answer is no, all it will acheive is the deaths of Americans in a place that has no value to them for a goal that is misleading.

    To fight terrorists in a conventional manner is asking for defeat, they do not rely on the geneva convention, they do not fight in open battle field, to defeat them you need to fight them as they fight you, small covert groups hit and run tactics.

    It is time the powers that be start realising that this kind of war is no longer pheasable.

  44. 51 Elina in Finland
    December 1, 2009 at 18:04

    By the way, wasn’t President Obama just awarded with Nobel Peace Prize…?

  45. 52 Tom in the U.S.A.
    December 1, 2009 at 18:06

    Sending more troops is a mistake. The Taliban will outlast any number of foreign armies (it’s their home, after all). Soon after we leave, the Taliban will rise up again. This is not Iraq. The problem in Iraq is more about sectarian violence (one local group against the other). Both sides “win” in Iraq when the violence subsides and they figure out how to get along. Afghanistan is different.

  46. 53 Arbibi Ashoy
    December 1, 2009 at 18:07

    Why was the war in Iraq won easily but the war in Afghanistan never ending? There is a simple explanation – its called demography and geography.
    The US in Iraq had supported the majority Shiites takeover of the country. The minority Sunnis in Iraq also failed to get support from its Sunni neighbors of Syria and Jordan. Iraq is also a flat country and its terrain suits the use of tanks and armored cars.
    The situation in Afghanistan is the total reverse. The US helped the minority ethnic groups from the North takeover the country. The Taliban actually represents the dominant ethnic group which makes up two thirds of the population. Not only that, the ethnic group that makes up the Taliban is getting support from its diaspora in Pakistan and Iran and other neighboring countries. Furthermore, Afghanistan is a mountainous country with millions of caves that can be used as hideouts and bases.
    So, by comparison, in Iraq, the US was only waging war with Saddam Hussein’s Sunni clans. However, in Afghanistan, the US is waging war against an entire race of people who also live in neighboring countries thus making the borders porous. The mountainous terrain in Afghanistan also makes it impossible for the US to wage a land war and thus can only rely on air power which unfortunately cannot penetrate the caves used by the Taliban. To make matters worse, Afghanistan is a narcotic (drug) trafficking state with corrupt officials and no law and order at all.

  47. December 1, 2009 at 18:07

    I really liked that phrase “back 2 basics”. In the cold war the whole world in one or other way played its part in the creating this mes in my country, so know I think its their responsibility to help us fix it. I know the problems are greate and it will need alot of sacrifices, but I want to tell the world that its worth it.
    Moh. Hamid
    Kabul, Afg

  48. 55 Tom D Ford
    December 1, 2009 at 18:15

    @ gary
    November 30, 2009 at 21:47

    “Unfortunately, old engineers have a penchant for taking “wags” (wild-ass guesses) at solutions when problems defy immediate definition. …”

    Evan a WAG can give you information if you will learn from it. That’s basically what Arty, artillery does, they fire one round and watch where it lands and then adjust the next round accordingly towards the target.

    There are many hundreds of years of history in Afghanistan to learn from and some of those years were stable and innocuous to the rest of the world, so what brought those years about? How did the people govern themselves?

  49. 56 guykaks
    December 1, 2009 at 18:19

    I feel this has been long overdue!Obama is going on the right direction and Afghanistan should now prepare for war!

  50. 57 Peter_scliu
    December 1, 2009 at 18:30

    No other countries have contained an insurgency except the British and Siri lanka. The British did it in Malaya with draconian laws and forcibly resettled the suspected sympathisers in barb wired concentration camp and detaining people without trial . The Siri Lankan went in with brute force without thoughts for collateral damage making them liable for war crimes by today ‘s standard. Americans are fighting in afghanistan with their hands tied.

  51. 58 archibald
    December 1, 2009 at 18:35

    I do not think anyone will know the answer to that question until it is allowed to play out. Vietnam and Korea are glorified as being wars that could have been won, if we had only had more troops. History and all evidence to the contrary, make Obamas decision seem to be another back bend to appease the military, without who’s support no president has fared well. Politicians are poor war makers, guns are not diplomatic, once fired they cannot be silenced so long as politicians continue to create illusive targets for them to shoot at. In this case the veil of “terrorism” has engulfed the entire region, making innocents and militants the same in the eyes of the blind rifle, right and wrong blending into a bloody grey.
    More war is always a bad choice.

  52. December 1, 2009 at 18:38

    President Hamid Krazai re-election has been controversial, which for some is a cause of further disunity in the country, to the advantage of the Taliban that see political figures in Kabul split among themselves.

    The war in Afghanistan can’t be won just through military operations. The troops should win the hearts and minds of the population. Without cooperation from the locals, the Talibans will always find where to hide and regroup, considering the mountainous landscape of the region, presumably, giving a safe heaven to dangerous Taliban figures, both fighters and ideologues.

    No matter how many troops are there, they will find it difficult to eradicate the Taliban if they are entrenched in the mind of a large section of the population, ready to die for a cause through suicide attacks or whatever.

  53. 60 T
    December 1, 2009 at 18:50

    Just saw that Obama wants to end the Afghan War in 3 years.

    What good has the past 8 years there done? None. Therefore, what good would an extra 3 do? Again, none.

  54. 61 James
    December 1, 2009 at 19:06

    No! This is why “training Afghan security forces to assume more responsibility.” The USA is going at this as if they are children who can train to be American like or as if they had no measurable responsibility! They are responsible…………. it’s Afghan style responsibility. We’re ignoring that, because we have an agenda! So! It will never work! The only way for peace in Afghanistan, is for us to give up out agenda! We have to convert them with kindness! We want them to be good global citizens, well we have to be good citizens! ALL THAT WE FEAR IN THE WORLD WE BIRTH INTO THE WORLD! We have simply got to do a better job of realizing the consequence of all our future actions. I mean really examine our future actions. History tells us once the genie is out of the bottle we, no matter how hard we try or how many human lives we throw at a problem, it can’t be controlled by us alone!!!!
    What ever the President says, short of total withdrawal will fail. A out right win is not possible, we must be willing to stay like in South Korea!

  55. 62 brodie in portland, oregon
    December 1, 2009 at 19:07

    I am absolutely against the increase in troop levels, as should anyone be from my country. This is a resource war being fought by greedy nations, and should be understood as such. All of the issues mentioned in your opening- increased instability, humanitarian crisis, invigorated extremists- have all been caused by our being there. You don’t fight fire with gasoline, and you can’t bomb a country into peace.

  56. 63 steve
    December 1, 2009 at 19:09

    When did Obama ever say he was against Afghanistan war? He spoke out against the Iraq war, he never said he was against the Afghanistan war or for withdrawing US forces from there. He said that about Iraq, so whomever wrote what Ros read, is mistaken other than the fact that politicians do lie, but Obama never says what the contributor alleged Obama said.

    • 64 Mike in Seattle
      December 1, 2009 at 19:27

      To be quite honest I’m rather nervous and uncomfortable about this action. I feel like we’re throwing good after bad at this point, and I need to see an actual time/goal based plan for leaving and I want to see what Afghanistan is going to do as well.

      Right now I’m just hearing snippets from sources on background, and it’s just not enough information for me to make up my mind. I’ll wait for the speech tonight.

  57. 65 Adam Croes
    December 1, 2009 at 19:10

    President Obama has really let down the masses in America. Most of the people I know, myself included, voted for him based on his promises of reform and structural accountability; the focal point being that he would get out of the Middle East and quit squandering what’s left of America’s reputation internationally. He has all but abandoned those ideals and promises and no longer represents the desires of the citizens who elected him. “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.”
    My deepest apologies to the civilized world, we were tricked again.
    -Adam

  58. 66 Mike in Seattle
    December 1, 2009 at 19:10

    The early leaks are reporting that this plan will have an end within three years. In my eyes this means that if we don’t see the war coming to a close he will be voted out of office in 2012. If this is correct, then at least cynicism will be working in the favor of ending this whole mess.

  59. 67 Melissa
    December 1, 2009 at 19:11

    This is a discussion that will never end. We should have done this a long time ago to stabilize Afghanistan, but Bush’s focus was Iraq. We do owe the people of Afghanistan to try and help stabilize their country and give them some sort of democracy. I just pray that that is what this is all about, but looking at what America has down in Iraq and South America, is this about imperialism or giving people a democracy? Who knows really.

  60. 68 EchoRose in Florida
    December 1, 2009 at 19:11

    I do support my President. Though I did not support Bush’s war in Iraq (due to his lack of intelligence and the false pretense of the invasion), I do think we are finally focusing our military where it should have been long ago.

    For me, it comes down to trust and I trust President Obama. I believe he will make the most capable decision based on the information provided him.

  61. 69 Nina
    December 1, 2009 at 19:13

    I voted and supported Barack Obama during his campaign. I believe that he is making the correct decision in calling for a surge of troops. While he has many opponents, to think that just withdrawing and accepting defeat , while leaving the region in further turmoil is just foolish.

    However, you must acknowledge the detrimental effects that heroin has in American culture and the substantial increase in heroin production since the Taliban has lost control of the region. It is a very difficult position, but I believe that Obama is making the correct decision.

  62. 70 John Mich
    December 1, 2009 at 19:14

    Anybody with a fighting spirit will always come back with vengeance, they do not like to loose. I don’t see how trying to beat a country into submission is going to work. I used to think diplomats were people who went abroad to try to solve problems of understanding between peoples. Now its seems they just try to push agendas.

  63. 71 Christian in Milwaukee
    December 1, 2009 at 19:14

    Obama has alienated many of those folks who voted for him, and whose political capital he’s squandered.

    This is the first significant decision which he hasn’t delegated, and it’s the wrong one. He’s repeating the failures of the previous regime.

    We ought to have fought this war after September 11th, but we didn’t. We chose to support a war in Iraq. We cannot sacrifice more lives in pursuit of questionable goals in a muslim country.

    Obama was elected to restore our standing in the eyes of the world, to help heal the wounds with the muslim world, and to create real change at the federal level.

    But his lack of experience is now a persistent problem. He’s not standing for a public option for health care, he’s backing significant green initiatives, he isn’t closing Guantanamo, and he’s not ending our military involvement in the middle east.

    As an independent, I am quite disenfranchised.

  64. 72 Tom D Ford
    December 1, 2009 at 19:14

    It depends on what Obama will commission those soldiers to do.

    It is a bit ridiculous to speculate on whether Obama has it “right” before he tells us what he is ordering the soldiers to do, isn’t it?

  65. 73 AJ in Portland OR USA
    December 1, 2009 at 19:15

    I’m an American citizen who’s been to Afghanistan as a non-profit NGO [Humanitarian] Aid Worker to Afghanistan; while I only worked there for 2 months last year, my wife worked there for almost 2 years.
    To those who claim that the US (and ISAF / NATO) should pull out immediately: You clearly have NOT been there and had relationships with Afghan citizens. They, by-in-large, don’t hate Americans/the West (though there is an element that is somewhat growing in somewhat disfavor); while there might be a disappointment, it’s just as much with their own government: promises made and not kept (aide-wise, etc.)
    However: all the women that my wife would talk to (Afghan women, to be perfectly and precisely clear), HATED the Taliban. They hated the oppression. They also have called the US fighters that bombed the Taliban “Birds of Freedom.” It’s only when returning to the States that my wife talked to women who thought the Taliban were good/right. Guess it goes to show you that until you live under the circumstances, you truly don’t have a clue.
    And so, to immediately pull out: ridiculous, the Taliban would very rapidly resume control and the country would revert to being a safe haven for Taliban and the most radical Islamist extremists who ARE bent on terror and destruction.
    The troops are necessary. Until Afghanistan can get their own troops up-to-speed, they are needed.

  66. 74 steve
    December 1, 2009 at 19:15

    Can you ask Sophia if she thinks the US should even have a military, and should the US have entered WW2? These antiwar types never seem to think war is ever justified, even fighting against the Nazis, they would have opposed. And the deaths of US forces in Afghanistan is so much smaller than other wars we have fought in that it’s insulting to even compare it to other wars. If you’re just against war period, then openly admit you don’t think we should even have a military.

  67. 75 rad rich
    December 1, 2009 at 19:17

    If you look at the plan of the BUsh administration there was so many mistakes. You have to send more troops to get the place stable enough to get things done there. It is worth fighting and if you look at what will happen if you leave. The Taliban can not be nogotiated with and will be another hanger for extrmist around the world to go to. ALso the tability of the the region of ubeks and other are tilling with the same effects of muslim extrimist and will be at stake also. The US would have to go back if you dont fix it now.. Most americans dont no anything about news outside of there country. Look at the top news story being tiger woods.. Great we need more troops!
    Richard
    Houston texas

  68. 76 Christian in Milwaukee
    December 1, 2009 at 19:17

    Oops, I meant “NOT” supporting significant green initiatives…

  69. 77 Farouk in portland
    December 1, 2009 at 19:18

    This is not the west war the only way to defeat the Taliban is a coalition of muslin moderate coalition not western occupier.
    we have lost the war long time ago.

  70. December 1, 2009 at 19:19

    The US is essentially bankrupt and this war will destroy it. We are doing what al Qaeda wants, and perhaps what China wants. They can sit back and watch the US bleed to death, and when the time comes China will let us fall.

    • 79 John LaGrua/New York
      December 1, 2009 at 22:14

      Right on the money.Osama bi ladin could not have hoped for a better outcome from his poinyt of view.US goes broke ,is humiliated and disgraced .The Chinese with infinite patience watch as the “barbariansns” in the West exhaust themselves in futile wars.while they finance the debacle with funds earned from the gluttony of American consumers.Irony writ large.

  71. 80 steve
    December 1, 2009 at 19:21

    Resource war? What resources does Afghanistan have? If you oppose the Afghan war, you support terrorism. It’s really that simple.

  72. 81 Joseph A. Migliore
    December 1, 2009 at 19:21

    There are no good choices in Afghanistan, sending more troops will not resolve the conflict, in fact it will increase animosity against the U.S. and its NATO allies over the long term. Resolving the conflict in Afghanistan is not a military solution.
    President Obama in his recent decision is pursuing the wrong strategy for bringing peace and stability in Afghanistan.

    All that corruption and drama over the Afghani elections, where former President Karzai is reinstated as the prime minister and they are critisizing the Iranian elections here from last summer?

    The administration should seek an immediate shift in stretegy and in policy, from war waging in Afghanistan to a political solution, where the emphasis is placed on nation-building and the reconciliation process for restructuring Afghani society. The U.S. needs engagement with local tribal leaders and with the Taliban in all provinces & less of a U.S. and NATO troop presence!

  73. 82 Maccus Germanis
    December 1, 2009 at 19:27

    I think commitment of time is more important than commitment of troops. All war is attrition.

  74. December 1, 2009 at 19:27

    The issue in Afghanistan is producing a stabilizing force lead by America that can jump into Pakistan to secure the 60-100 nuclear weapons held by Pakistan. Pakistan is the issue. It is corrupt, instable, and slowing loosing control to the ultra conservative Islamic fundamentalists. We cannot have such a “nation state” getting a hold of nuclear weapons

  75. 84 Brad
    December 1, 2009 at 19:30

    This war is the most rotten thing the US has ever gotten into, Bush used the military to project his ego and now this administration has to clean up the mess. Even if it was not Obama, there was not much choice as to pull out now would just embolden the Taliban – the US has no choice but to send more troops now as the stakes are now much higher and unfortunately will require more blood to be solved.

    The lady who is against the build up is sadly living in complete denial and is (understandibly talking from the position of mohter whose son may be in the firing line)

  76. December 1, 2009 at 19:33

    President Obama has taken the right decision. Troop levels have to be increased to prevent the Taliban and al Qaeda from gaining the upper hand. At the same time the Karzai Administration should be more accountable for its actions and needs to work closely with the coalition forces. Right now they are not working from the same script!

  77. 86 Dan H in Chicago
    December 1, 2009 at 19:33

    The surge worked in Iraq but look what happened after we pulled the troops out of the streets? The elections get delayed and the national police and army breakdown.
    In the end, whoever the US invades (Iraq, Vietnam, Afghanistan) the honus is on the home country to improve the way of life for all citzens.
    If this does not change, then the “Graveyard of Empires” will add another name to its list.

  78. 87 Kacey USA
    December 1, 2009 at 19:34

    During his campaign Obama’s anti-war rhetoric illustrated the perfect world the left in the U.S. believe we live in. His actions now show he has a grasp of the world as it exists. Weather he believes the war should have happened at all is irrelevant. If Afghanistan is not helped to become a peaceful sovereign nation now then we will have to fight again at some time in the future, either on their soil or ours.

  79. 88 Peter in jamaica
    December 1, 2009 at 19:38

    More troops will always make a difference, only if they are deployed correctly and with a strategy that allows for flexibility and quick response to changes in the battle field as well as adequate backup and support as the battle escalates.
    Also the involvement of the locals is a must for this campaign to work or it will be another Vietnam only it will be a world Vietnam not just a US one.

  80. 89 Jane Steele
    December 1, 2009 at 19:39

    Obama had no choice and made the only decision he could.

    Pakistan has nuclear weapons and that part of the world cannot be allowed to become anymore unstable than it already is – The safety of too many other countries and innocent people are at stake.

  81. 90 Julie
    December 1, 2009 at 19:40

    Terry Gross asked Seymour Hersch his thoughts about what the Military should do at this point regarding the war. His immediate response was ‘Talk to the Taliban directly’. He feels there are plenty of Taliban factions in various areas that would be willing to negotiate with the US military. They have natural resources that they need assistance with such as mining, wherein, they loose about 90% due to lack of proper equipment. If the Military can play a role in this way, the economic focus could be shifted away from the Poppy trade.

    • 91 Julie in San Francisco
      December 1, 2009 at 19:41

      Terry Gross asked Seymour Hersch his thoughts about what the Military should do at this point regarding the war. His immediate response was ‘Talk to the Taliban directly’. He feels there are plenty of Taliban factions in various areas that would be willing to negotiate with the US military. They have natural resources that they need assistance with such as mining, wherein, they loose about 90% due to lack of proper equipment. If the Military can play a role in this way, the economic focus could be shifted away from the Poppy trade.

  82. 92 Elias
    December 1, 2009 at 19:40

    The way the war was fought in the past and being fought now we can expect some of the same results, another thirty thousand of troops may help somewhat in containing the Teleban, it still will not result in ending the war. War is war and its time to fight it in an all out way and not in a limited way. where ever the Teleban hide and reside, continuos daily blanket bombing should be carried out, which will cause peacefull civillian casualties as collaterial damage which would be unfortunate, it would more than likely bring an end to the war. Otherwise we can expect more of the same.

  83. 93 Eric Hart
    December 1, 2009 at 19:42

    I believe this a a matter of “give a man a fish he eats for a day, teach a man to fish he eats for a lifetime”, and It’s about the options the people of Afganistan have to rebuild their county after what has happened over the last 20 or so years. The US security is dependent on which option the Afgan people choose. If we leave now they have one option for leadership in their country, the Taliban. It’s in our best interest, not just that of the Afganis, that they select democracy in some form and that they are sucessful at it. In order for that to happen they will need someone to teach them to fish. That cannot happen when the county is in turmoil. We need troops there to provide some stability while we traintheir forces to maintain that stability, and meanwhile help educate the people and their leadership on their options and the path to a free democratic country. If we left now they will turnto the only other current option they have that has th power to provide stability and peace, the Taliban…whether they agree with their politics and positions or not.
    Eric Hart

  84. 94 Farouk in portland
    December 1, 2009 at 19:43

    The objective is to defeat Muslim extremeness all over the globe,not only Afghanistan.
    we will never win as long it is the west leading the charge,
    it is the time to step out of the way and let the Muslim moderate take back the street from the thugs.

  85. 95 Jett Drolette
    December 1, 2009 at 19:43

    The “Truth” IS… The Unocal Pipeline is not finished. “Finishing the job”, as President Obama has put it, is a two sided coin. The first side is to sidestep the public with the democracy for the Afghan people, smoke screen; the other side of it is to comfort the entities who are in the region to make sure America’s geo-political imperatives are met. Which means getting to the resources before China and while Russia is still weak. Read the 1997 book, “The Grand Chess Board”. It is all there folks.

    The Bush regime and his oil cartel associates, started this. Now that the train has left the station, Obama has to finish the job. I voted for the guy but he’s not in power. The guys pulling the strings are already in place.

    Don’t be foolish. That is what is really going on.

    Best of luck.

    Jett

  86. 96 Mary in Oregon
    December 1, 2009 at 19:44

    I’m rather confused by (former?) Obama supporters who claim to feel “betrayed” by this decision, as Michael Moore exemplifies. Obama said all along during his campaign that it was going to be his intention to turn the focus on Afghanistan and finally do something about the Bush era neglect of that country. He’s doing exactly what he promised he would do; give the matter measured, serious-minded consideration with the aid of a lot of other brains and come up with a likely solution.

    All these “betrayed” Americans who voted for Obama… were they just not listening during the campaign?

    I was and remain an Obama supporter, myself, and have been greatly comforted by his obvious deep consideration of what to do. Unlike our last president, he’s clearly not approaching this or anything else in a fly-by-night, seat-of-the-pants fashion. I don’t know if anyone can say this is the right or wrong decision at this point, but it’s clear that it has been carefully thought out in consultation with an awful lot of smart people.

    • 97 John LaGrua/New York
      December 1, 2009 at 21:10

      Smart people know when to cut their losses .Smart is not an asset iin Washington where shifting sands of political advantage often dominates crucial decisions .This decision is not only not smart it is stupid and tragic .It was a tough call for Obama but he has failed to show the courage to tell the American people that Afganisitan is sink hole .There is nothing inconsistent with changing one’s mind.

  87. 98 Bill
    December 1, 2009 at 19:47

    I don’t believe President Obama is a warmonger. There’s much talk about infrastructure. Maybe in this case humanitarian goals can only be achieved in a timely manner using the military. I long for a change in focus from vengeance or protecting interests to achieving humanitarian goals. My hope, especially now with the Nobel Peace Prize, is that President Obama will re-phrase the Afghanistan effort into a humanitarian effort rather than a war effort.

  88. 99 Maccus Germanis
    December 1, 2009 at 19:47

    Having listened to the “same real estate twice” propmpts me to question. Is there any effort to train village militias to resist Taliban, or are all eggs in one centralized national army basket?

  89. 100 patti in cape coral
    December 1, 2009 at 19:47

    Just a question. I just heard Ros say that we will have to tune in to hear the strategy Mr. Obama proposes. Isn’t this a bad idea in war? I understand that government should be transparent, but should we be publicly broadcasting strategy so the Taliban can hear it and plan accordingly?

    • 101 Tom K in Mpls
      December 2, 2009 at 17:09

      patti, in a quick attack, secrecy and surprise are essential. When you are fighting a war of attrition, wearing them down, stating you plans works as a psychological tool, when it can’t be stopped.

  90. 102 Robyn Lexington, KY USA
    December 1, 2009 at 19:49

    I voted and still SUPPORT President Obama. He was handed quite a mess on all fronts that came down from various administrations (not just Bush). I think we need to finish what we started. The mess in Iraq took all the resources and troops from Afghanistan. We did not finish the job we pledged in Afghanistan. I am afraid if we leave things undone and the Taliban moves back in to power, it won’t be long before the US receives more attacks. It seems we continue to make alot of mistakes. I hope the new generals will take note of these errors.

  91. 103 David / McMinnville
    December 1, 2009 at 19:53

    President Obama’s announcement brings two facts into sharp focus: His total contempt for the American people, who voted overwhelmingly against war and militarism, and his willingness to carry on the reactionary and failed policies of the Bush administration.

    • 104 Mary in Oregon
      December 1, 2009 at 20:37

      But Obama said all along that it was his intention to focus on Afghanistan. He was very upfront about that in his campaign, at some risk. I can only assume you weren’t listening.

      Bush’s policy in Afghanistan was a failure. It was a failure, because absolutely nothing substantive was done or even attempted. He just took us in, momentarily toppled the Taliban, then proceeded to ignore the region as he scampered off after Sadam Hussein in a frenzy of unthinking Daddy revenge. Now Obama has to fix the multiple failures of the Bush administration, and by fixing, no one in their right mind could think that means walking away. Given the state of Afghanistan (thanks to Bush), fixing is going to require a combination of military and humanitarian efforts, and I suspect that’s what we’ll be hearing about this evening.

  92. 105 Angela in Sunriver
    December 1, 2009 at 19:57

    Can history help us see this issue differently? The occupation of Japan and Germany after WWII. Barring two significant differences-the Allies had won the war, and the war was over….the US built Japan into a mega player in the world of industry and commercial success. It didn’t happen by turning Japan into a mini United States. Instead consideration of the culture,using that knowledge and making decisions about what had to change, the US helped Japan became the country we know today. Is there still a Japanese culture? Yes. Is it the same as pre-war, no. But it is still uniquely Japanese.
    In Obama’s speech in Egypt, he cited South Korea as an examaple of another country who after a war no one really won-opting instead to split the country into two divisions, South Korea went from being the economic equal of Ghana, into again the financial and exporting giant it is today without sacrificing its culture. Was there corruption? Yes. Is there still corruption? Yes. But there has always been corruption in many countries. Is there a democratically elected government in South Korea, Japan, and Germany? Yes.
    Again, I ask: can history help us see the situation in Afghanistan differently and apply the lessons learned to bring that culture as much in tact as possible, but into the 21st century?

  93. 106 Tom D Ford
    December 1, 2009 at 20:01

    Good show WHYS guys, you didn’t have on ranting right-wing ideologues, you had thoughtful guests with a variety of views and experiences.

    Well done.

  94. 107 Joseph A. Migliore
    December 1, 2009 at 20:02

    People in the West seemingly overlook a very important dynamic of Afghani society, that it is historically an Islamic nation.

    We cannot, simply pursue a policy of changing the very structure of Afghani society, from a tribal Islamic country to a modern Western style deomocracy and seek such a policy shift by reverting to military force. A military troop increase will not work over the long term.

  95. 108 Tom D Ford
    December 1, 2009 at 20:11

    Obama was for the Afghan war and against the Iraq war all through his campaign. This not a change, he is consistent and he spoke about it often.

    Either the far right did not listen or they would not hear.

    And the centrists who elected him ought not be disappointed that he is doing what he said he would do.

    We gave Bush/Cheney eight years to totally screw things up, lets give Obama at least a few years to try and clean up the mess he was left with.

  96. 109 Mahmood Rafique
    December 1, 2009 at 20:14

    It was a good topic, but unfortnately the guests were too average, I mean some of the comments where even misrepresentation of the factual position on the ground. Your guest defending Afghanistan said ‘ the actual problem is in Paksitan’ I would like to correct the record it is Afghanistan which brought Klashnikov and Herion Culture to a peaceful country like Pakistan. And for the US experts, Pakistan has been suffering due to wrong foreign policies of both in Washington and Islamabad, isn’t it?
    This is not Pakistan war rtaher it is pure American War which perhaps would never won despite loss of lives of soldiers from US and NATO, and thousands of innocent civilians both in Afghnistan and Pakistan.
    The serge in troops is not a part of solution but it’s a part of real problem, for heaven sake stop this madness of war and try to address the socio-economic issues being faced by the people of third world countries including Pakistan and Afghanistan.

  97. December 1, 2009 at 20:15

    I guess if you don’t play, you can’t win-but you can lose. There has already been a lot of sacrifices and apparently will be more before this war comes to an end. It has been eight years since the first deployment of troops, but President Obama has to address this situation under his administration, because the original mission has not been accomplished.

    While I am not in support of the war, I do respect President Obama’s commitment to complete the original mission, otherwise previous troops sent for this very cause, loss their lives in vain.

    When President Obama presents his primetime address, it is his responsibility to explain why it is necessary to deploy 30,000 additional troops and convince the American people this is the best strategy and how it’s going to work.

  98. 111 audrey
    December 1, 2009 at 20:35

    I’m not into politics but I like to share my opinion. Obama sending troops is like adding wood to the fire. It’s going to be like the 100 year war. The problem is the belief of people. We all think we’re better than each other and until we know we are equal there is going to be fights. We have to realize that we came from Adam and Eve, and that’s what makes us equal. If you know the history of the Hutus and Tutsis of Rwanda. They were once united but when the Belgians came to colonize them they put disunity by instigating. They would go to one and tell them that they were better then the other. So the problem is egotism. We as US citizens think we are better and other countries think they are better and until we come to an unserstanding that we are all equal you can kiss unity good bye.

  99. 112 Mahmood Rafique
    December 1, 2009 at 20:36

    In continuation of my earlier comments, just imagine the US is likely to spend a $16 billion on an additional 30,000 troops or surge in US forces. Believe you me if half of that amount allocated or spend on social development projects in Afghanistan, you will win hearts of millions of Afghan people across the board. Just mind it no society or country can afford extremism. Lets work together to address the root causes of extremism instead of pointing fingers at any country.

  100. 113 John LaGrua/New York
    December 1, 2009 at 21:00

    A fatal mistake ! Obama has shown that intelligence must be seasoned with experience and maturity.We cannot win in Afganistan and this folly of increasing our exposure only puts off the day when we have to exit.No one in Washington seems to understand that the US is financially exhausted after the hugh military expenditures of the Cold War ,Iraq and Afganistan .The shift in world geopolitics makes this enterprise absurd.Failure to adjust to new reality has brought down great nations before ,wars bankrupt nations ,drain resources, human and material ,from productive effort .Classical Greece ,Roman Republic, British Empire ,French Colonialism and latterly the Soviet Union all succumbed from delusions of past glory Afganistan will not only destroy this president but may well threaten the very political social and economic structure of the US.The hawks have varying agendas but all will produce failure ,humiliation and senseless human tragedy.Obama disappoints and the young people of the nation lives will be squandered.!

  101. 114 jens
    December 1, 2009 at 21:14

    steve,

    you might add to your statement “If you oppose the Afghan war, you support terrorism, human rights abuses, rape, violence against women and children, fundamentalist islam, world domination of islam etc etc……there are still people who believe talking to people driven by a fundamentalist view and promisis of 72 virgings due to a martyr’s death are rational folks to talk to.

  102. 115 GTR5
    December 1, 2009 at 22:23

    No, he doesn’t have it right.

  103. 116 Joseph A. Migliore
    December 1, 2009 at 22:23

    Jens, your posting is in line with mainstream U.S. neoconservatism. Your comments, seemingly are what I would expect to hear and read about on the Fox-News media source, meaning they convey the message of “fear-mongering” a Bush, Cheney classic.

    It is completely naive and inconceivable to think that the U.S. government on its own, should assume the role of a “global police force”.

    There hasn’t been any Al Qaeda militancy presence in Afghanistan since the military operations of the battle in Tora Bora, they have been ousted from Afghani society since 2002.

    On the contrary, we need to get out of the business of going into traditionally Islamic countries and attempt to impose Western ideals and lifestyle, by any means necessary regardless of he consequences.

    I completely disagree with your commentary.

  104. 117 Arbibi Ashoy
    December 1, 2009 at 22:48

    What is the matter with Obama? Does he think he is going to find Bin Laden? There was a lot of enthusiasm when Obama won the elections. Where exactly does Obama’s priorities lie – wasn’t it supposed to be healthcare and unemployment? Yet still the healthcare reforms promised by Obama have not been delivered. And unemployment has hit the two digit figures. Obama gave the impression that he was anti-war and there was a lot of talk about bringing troops home. Now he is just taking troops out of Iraq and sending them to Afghanistan.

    I feel sad for the American people in the USA who joined the army before the war. Now they can’t leave the army. it’s a bit like joining the Mafia. Maybe slightly better than the Mafia because if they die, they do get a fancy tombstone, though.

    If Americans believe that Sept 11 was planned in Afghanistan, then maybe sending more troops can ensure their security. However, do many Americans know that the leader of the Taliban has denied the charges and said that Bin Laden was NOT the mastermind of Sept 11. In fact, the leader of the Taliban offered to hand over Bin Laden to the USA if they provided proof. The reply from George Bush and Tony Blair was “we only provide proof to our allies and not to our enemies”. What is so hard in providing proof unless there is NO such proof. Is the war in Afghanistan just based on a pack of lies?

  105. 118 T
    December 1, 2009 at 23:42

    I’m listening to the podcast version of today’s programme. And I heard one of your guests say essentially that education is one of the keys to winning the “hearts and minds” of the Afghans.

    We’re going to spend billions there on what, training new teachers, building more schools, etc? Meanwhile, teachers in the States are still underpaid and overworked. School districts are laying off more teachers. Administrators continue to get salary increases. And Obama says, if you want stimulus funds, you MUST tie teacher performance to student results. This means that teaching to tests must continue.

    This is ludicrous because the average teacher handles at least 20-25 students (many times more). You try correcting that volume of tests (and keep up with the rest of your work).

  106. 119 T
    December 1, 2009 at 23:46

    An idea. Since the States will be spending so much money on new schools in Afghanistan, is this a whole new market for English teachers? Japan and China were THE markets for a long time. But now a whole new market is opening up?

    Lots of Western companies can’t wait to set up shop in Afghanistan. I wonder how much the Afghan people will benefit?

  107. 120 Khalid
    December 2, 2009 at 03:51

    After hearing President Obama’s Speech, I am convinced that his plan is going to be a good one for Afghanistan.

    As an Afghan, I am convinced that it is the time for Afghanistan to grow up. Afghans are thankful for the US and the International community who have given so much to our country.

    Afghans are thankful for the USA and folks who are helping Afghanistan.

    Thanks,
    Khalid

  108. 121 Tan Boon Tee
    December 2, 2009 at 04:18

    As a fresh Nobel Peace laureate, Obama must have considered the plausibility that more troops would mean early conclusion to the dragging 8-year war, so that peace may begin to prevail.

    However, I think this may be yet another of his beautiful dreams, for the decision can only add more casualties to the already bloody war.
    (vzw & btt)……..

  109. 122 Elias
    December 2, 2009 at 05:01

    The deployment of another 30,000 soldiers to Afganistan wll be received with some satisfaction, mainly by the US General commanding the troops there, however the sucess to end the war is yet to be seen. The news has been received the world over with limited optimism. It is my belief, and I am sure every one in the United States and people in other countries who look forward to the day for the war to come to a successfull end, would be more enthusiastic if just one man, namely Mr. Colin Powell was appointed to head the strategy of fighting this war in bringing it to a fruitfull end. His past success speaks for itself.

  110. 123 Don in Detroit
    December 2, 2009 at 07:27

    What incentive does Karzai have to end corruption and establish a credible military force what will be devoted to routing out Al-Queda? He himself stated that he is not so gullible as to think the Americans are there for the benefit of the Afghans. Any jabber about nation building is just so much insincere lip service. America is there because America believes it to be in their own selfish interest to be there and nothing else. Obama has nothing to bargain with. Outside of pledging continuing presence of American forces extending out into eternity he will not change the fundamentalist dynamic which holds sway in that corner of the globe. He should take good advice from Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) who suggests we begin an orderly pullout now. Only when that is seen to be the inevitable reality will Karzai or whoever else is in power there at the time realize that the time has indeed come to fish or cut bait and that there is no other alternative available.

  111. 124 Rustam
    December 2, 2009 at 07:55

    If President Obama has really got the power to decide on such defining decisions and if it is not a institutional decision, then he has got it wrong again. He got it wrong about Afghanistan first when he and his Government, especially Hillary Clinton, publicly and in practice defiantly supported the illegal appointment of Hamid Karzai as President of Afghanistan. Karzai received (at least) 3 in 4 of his votes by fraud. More than a million of his votes was found invalid, election went to a runoff, he didn’t clear the grounds for fraud, but still got into power, with the support of the West. When you don’t have a local government who doesn’t have a strong popular support and is discredited, and a Government which is probably from top to bottom a mafia set up facilitating the production and traffic of the largest narcotics trade in history, and thereby indirectly making heroin addicts of millions of young men and women in Pakistan, Iran, Russian and Europe, and especially in Britain where 90 to 95 percent of the hard drugs and heroin originate in Afghanistan, as well as creating the grounds for the criminals to take over societies in these and many other countries, then the ailment is in the policy at the service of which such strategies are made. It will be in the best interests of the West if it could listen, without filters which have been given to it by some elements in Pakistan (like the ISI) and by some from Afghanistan (such as Khalilzad and his ilk) to the voice of those people who had been resisting the Taliban and other extremist groups such as Hekmatyar’s.

  112. 125 ajmal karimi
    December 2, 2009 at 10:25

    It seems to me that President Obama is very far away from the reality and truth in Afghanistan. More troops will mean more targets for the Taliban, i tell you even if they bring the whole america and americans they cant stabalize my country. america should learn to live and to let others live in their way.

  113. 126 Joseph
    December 2, 2009 at 13:43

    So what is their goal? Replace Afghan population or kill every taliban member which is not far from the first one? Afghanistan was never a democracy and it is never going to be. They will fight US and UK while they are there when they go it will go back to normal. You would have to be there for generations to change thinking of people. For me this is all huge waste of money and lives. Both could be used more reasonably, especially now

  114. 127 John Mnda
    December 2, 2009 at 15:36

    i think its a very good idea,taking into account that, these wars was manufactured by the us government and yet the people of afgan have got the right to life. the more the solders the more security is being inforced.please if you dont mind you can add some more please. kept it up Obama

  115. 128 Arbibi Ashoy
    December 2, 2009 at 15:43

    Well done Mr Obama, telling the Taliban that you plan to start bringing back troops in 18 months. Such a plonker of a military strategist, now the enemy knows how long to stay in waiting. After your troops leave Afghanistan, suddenly thousands of Taliban will make their entrance.

    • 129 John LaGrua/New York
      December 2, 2009 at 19:40

      Patience is a virtue and the Taliban are in no hurry.They will go back to their daily occupations ,aiding the opium trade and watching the futile war against them.Absurd!

  116. 130 CAYDION
    December 2, 2009 at 19:13

    WAR IS SO DEPRESSING THANK GOD SOMEONE HAS THE NERVES TO WALK AWAY FROM IT

  117. 131 Patrick Agbobu
    December 3, 2009 at 16:34

    No nation has ever succeded in Agfanistan. This is aprtmitive country with a primitive way of living. Just leave them alone. Alkada the terrorists movement and Osama are in Pakistan not Agfanistan. There was no Agfan person in the 9/11 bombing of the world trade centre or in any terrorist attack in Europe or America. The USA shold stop playing the international police person. Use all the money for arms and armarments in developing Agfanistan. Concentrate on Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen etc. where all the terrorists come from. Pakistan, Saudi arabia, Yemen, etc can stop international terrorism if they want to.

  118. 132 Aero
    December 4, 2009 at 03:30

    I favor getting out as soon s possible, but let us be real, what do you think will happen after a pull out from Afghanistan when the terriorist threat is not under control? Others will say that it’s the Afghan military’s business now, but if they are not well equipped for the backlash on the government and public what do you think would happen? The fight would not only remain within Afghanistan. It will be relaunched abroad and the rest of the world would be sitting ducks. The troop surge is necessary.


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