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Posted by on Oct 6, 2009 in International, War | 15 comments

Quote of the Day

Chris van Hollen (D-MD) on Republicans pressuring Pres. Obama to make a decision about whether to send 40,000 more troops to Afghanistan:

… Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), a member of the House leadership team, on Monday said there is no reason to rush a decision.

“We’ve been in Afghanistan for eight years. We can take a little more time,” Van Hollen said. “It’s more important to get it right.”

Finally! Someone in Congress stands up to this offensive notion that a few weeks is too long to take to decide if we should escalate a war we’ve been in for the former President’s entire term in office!

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Copyright 2009 The Moderate Voice
  • JeffersonDavis

    I agree that there is no rush to make the decision overnight to send (or not to send) additional troops to Afghanistan.

    Why, then, is it so hard for a partisan Democrat to understand why the American people feel the same way about the healthcare bills in Congress? This issue has to be addressed NOW. Don’t worry about reading the bill. Don’t debate it. Just pass it before the recess.

    Sound familiar? Let me guess. THAT’S different.

  • JSpencer

    Well guess what? One is healthcare and the other is a war. Two very “different” things. Also the debate on healthcare reform has been going on for decades. Not so much rushing there.

    Re: Afghanistan, sure, take a little time, but we all know how days can drag into weeks, into months, into years, etc. Frankly I think we have plenty of problems here at home needing to be addressed, without trying to justify what could easily end up being yet another idiotic and prolonged war.

    • PWT

      I think that it would be more apt to say that Democrats have been losing the health care debate for decades.

    • JeffersonDavis

      “One is healthcare and the other is war”.

      Yes, but it is the liberal left that is claiming that 40,000 people die because of lack of health insurance each year. How many died in Afghanistan last year?

      Usuing your own ideologues political spin, doesn’t that make healthcare much more important than Afghanistan based on American lives? But alas. Howard Dean realizes how many seats will be lost if even the slightest inkling of troop abandoment were to happen. THAT’S were the priority lies!

  • CStanley

    The pending decision isn’t whether to ‘escalate’ or not. The Obama administration, last Spring, agreed with recommendations to endorse a COIN strategy, so they committed to an escalation of sorts at that time. In August, Gen McChrystal was asked to provide an assessment of need for troops and resources to continue carrying out that mission. McChrystal complied, estimating that 40,000 additional troops are now needed if that mission is going to continue.

    If the administration is deciding to not support the ongoing mission, it has an obligation to make that decision in a timely manner, rather than having troops in the field fighting for unachievable goals (if they are spread too thin.)

    If the administration is now considering a more narrow military mission, but needs more time to clearly define and plan the new strategy, then they still have to adequately provide for the troop levels carrying out current strategy until the transition can be implemented.

    • kathykattenburg

      The Obama administration, last Spring, agreed with recommendations to endorse a COIN strategy, so they committed to an escalation of sorts at that time.Yes, and that was before the recent Afghan elections, which were riddled with fraud and so altered the entire underpinnings of a counterinsurgency strategy. That’s been addressed in many venues since the election.Circumstances change, and fortunately we now have a President who can readjust or change plans accordingly.If the administration is deciding to not support the ongoing mission, it has an obligation to make that decision in a timely manner, rather than having troops in the field fighting for unachievable goals (if they are spread too thin.) The administration has not decided to not support the ongoing mission. That’s the point. The administration is reevaluating the ongoing mission in the light of changed conditions and circumstances, and that kind of reevaluation inherently calls for an alternate strategy before dumping the current one. Also fortunately, we now have a president who thinks through decisions as important as this one, and does not forge blindly ahead into decisions as consequential as sending 40,000 more troops to Afghanistan without carefully considering all possible outcomes.If the previous president had done the same, we would not have had an invasion of Iraq premised on the best case scenario and conducted with the unexamined assumption that the Iraqi people would fall into our military’s arms with cries of gladness.

      Also, your implied assumption that if our current goals in Iraq are unachievable it’s solely or mostly because our troops are spread too thin is inaccurate. The entire point here is that the fraudulent elections and rampant corruption in Karzai’s regime have made the government illegitimate in most Afghans’ eyes. That’s what’s making a COIN strategy an iffy proposition for success — not the fact that troops are spread too thin. I mean, obviously, if it were decided that getting the Afghan people to trust and work with the current government was a possibility, there would need to be more U.S. troops. But to send the additional troops without determining that the former outcome is even possible is putting the cart before the horse — and ultimately putting 40,000 more troops in harm’s way for a hopeless cause.

      • CStanley

        The administration has not decided to not support the ongoing mission. That’s the point. The administration is reevaluating the ongoing mission in the light of changed conditions and circumstances, and that kind of reevaluation inherently calls for an alternate strategy before dumping the current one.
        Whatever period of time is necessary for formulating a new strategy should be utilized, but the general’s request to match the current mission with the appropriate troop levels during that interim time should be heeded, Kathy. THAT is the point.

        Also, your implied assumption that if our current goals in Iraq (sic) are unachievable it’s solely or mostly because our troops are spread too thin is inaccurate.
        No, your interpretation is that the election and legitimacy of the govt is the main or sole reason that our current goals are unacheivable is strictly your own opinion (shared by other liberal pundits and bloggers, and perhaps some in the administration) while the alternative view that higher troop levels are needed is my opinion as shared by some of the generals and perhaps some others in the administration.

        Afghanistan has never had a democratically elected govt and has never even had a centralized govt, so although Karzai’s legitimacy or illegitimacy is important, I highly doubt that the tribal leaders in remote areas are arguing over election fraud and determining that this is the reason that they should side with the Taliban instead of changing sides to fight against insurgents.

  • JSpencer

    “I think that it would be more apt to say that Democrats have been losing the health care debate for decades.” – PWTRichard Nixon was a republican… one who tried to usher in healthcare reform that current day GOP reactionaries would go all Beck over. Check your history.

  • Leonidas

    Its been months and months and no decision yet. Getting it right is important, but it has taken too long as is.

    • kathykattenburg

      It’s only been a few weeks since Gen. McChrystal sent that written request for more troops to Pres. Obama, Leonidas, not months and months.

  • DLS

    “This issue has to be addressed NOW.”

    That behavior by the Dems, especially the House lib Dems, has been at best, childish and stupid, and in reality, worse, deliberately exploiting the exploitable (which, lamentably, yields results). Rush, rush, rush to pass bad, bad, bad legislation; don’t read, don’t analyze, don’t think!

  • kathykattenburg

    I highly doubt that the tribal leaders in remote areas are arguing over election fraud and determining that this is the reason that they should side with the Taliban instead of changing sides to fight against insurgents.

    That’s not the point. The Karzai government has no legitimacy with the Afghan people in general. Even before the election, the Karzai government was viewed as the puppet of the U.S., and the election results just make the situation worse. You cannot convince the populatioin of Afghanistan to support a government that they view as illegitimate and propped up by the U.S., even more so because they see Americans as occupiers (not unreasonably).

    The recent elections were supposed to have invested Karzai’s government with legitimacy — that was why the administration was waiting with baited breath for the results. Whether tribal leaders in remote areas are concerned about election fraud or not, they still have no reason or motivation to side with the U.S. if the government supported by the U.S. is riddled with corruption and viewed as totally illegitimate. Why should they trust us?

    And this is not “strictly my opinion.” For one thing, if others share my opinion, by definition it can’t be strictly mine. But more substantively, it’s not just “liberal bloggers and pundits” who see the recent election results as boding very ill for any COIN strategy to be successful — unless you preemptively define anyone who thinks that way as being liberal.

    • CStanley

      Kathy, my main points are that the existing strategy must be supported with adequate manpower (and other resources) until such time that a replacement strategy (if there is to be one) is ready to implement.

      And that I disagree with you that the current problem with carrying out the COIN strategy is one of distrust of the electoral process. When I said this was strictly your opinion, I should perhaps have more correctly worded that it was strictly a matter of opinion, one which is shared by you and others, but not by all (therefore you can’t state with certainty that the alternative opinion of the main current problem of troop shortages is ‘incorrect’. These represent two different viewpoints of the current situation, not facts that are indisputable.)

  • kathykattenburg

    my main points are that the existing strategy must be supported with adequate manpower (and other resources) until such time that a replacement strategy (if there is to be one) is ready to implement.The existing strategy, as far as I am aware, is counterterrorism — seeking out and killing members of the Taliban. That is the strategy that, in my understanding, Gen. McChrystal is saying will not work because the people don’t trust the government (my understanding also is that McChrystal believes a counterinsurgency approach has a reasonable chance of working even given the recent election results). In other words, McChrystal is not asking for the additional troops so he can keep doing what he’s been doing. He’s asking for the additional troops so he can effectively carry out an entirely different strategy. If my understanding as to these matters is accurate, then I don’t see the point or the logic in sending more troops right now, immediately, so that McChrystal can use them to carry out the current strategy — if, indeed, there is to be an entirely new strategy, as decided by Pres. Obama. When I said this was strictly your opinion, I should perhaps have more correctly worded that it was strictly a matter of opinion, one which is shared by you and others, but not by all (therefore you can’t state with certainty that the alternative opinion of the main current problem of troop shortages is ‘incorrect’. This, of course, is true, and I didn’t intend to suggest otherwise. And here I must also say that I was not as clear as I could have been. I should have added the phrase, “in my view,” or the equivalent. I usually do that, but here I forgot.

    • CStanley

      I should have added the phrase, “in my view,” or the equivalent. I usually do that, but here I forgot.Fair enough…But on the first part of your comment here, you are getting some of the facts wrong. In March, Obama did commit to a broader, counterinsurgency strategy, so that is the status quo right now. At this point he, and others in the administration, are wavering on whether or not to continue it (and the election questions are a key part of their hesitancy.) McChrystal is one of a few voices who are advocating a continuation of COIN strategy and his troop request reflects that.To be fair, he has said that there is time to reflect before making the decision (I don’t know whether that statement reflected a need for him to be more politic than he’d been in some of his other statements, or if he truly feels that there’s still some time before additional troops have to be committed.)

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