The Trail: A Daily Diary of Campaign 2008

Archives

Sunday Talkies

Obama Urges Increase in U.S. Forces in Afghanistan on 'Face the Nation'

By Dan Balz
Calling the situation in Afghanistan "precarious and urgent," Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama urged the Bush administration Sunday to begin building up U.S. forces there to combat the growing strength of the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

In his first interview since arriving in Afghanistan on Saturday, Obama said on CBS's "Face The Nation" that conditions now warrant reducing the number of troops in Iraq and shifting them to Afghanistan.

"I think we have to seize that opportunity. Now's the time for us to do it," Obama said. "If we wait until the next administration, it could be a year before we get those additional troops on the ground here in Afghanistan and I think that would be a mistake. I think the situation is getting urgent enough that we've got to start doing something now."

Obama sought to use his time in Afghanistan to underscore his criticism that the Iraq war has distracted the United States, repeating his belief that the Bush administration had made a key mistake in failing "to finish the job here."

Obama said the goal of U.S. policy should be a stable Afghanistan and the disabling of the Taliban and al-Qaeda. "Losing is not an option when it comes to al-Qaeda and it never has been," he said, "and that's why the fact that we engaged in a war of choice when we were not yet finished with that task was such a mistake."

President Bush suggested last week that he was open to sending more troops to Afghanistan, but made no commitment to doing so. In a press conference at the White House Tuesday, Bush said his administration was already in the midst of sending 3,000 U.S. troops to the country and noted that NATO allies had pledged more as well.

Bush also acknowledged that Afghanistan was a "tough fight," and said the war there was going worse than in Iraq.

The debate over Afghanistan comes amid growing demands from Pentagon generals for extra forces to fight a worsening Taliban-led insurgency.

On his second day in Afghanistan, Obama met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai. His itinerary is expected to include a visit to Iraq along with previously announced visits to Jordan, Israel, Germany, France and Great Britain.

Obama's campaign announced Sunday morning that in Berlin he will speak at the Victory Column in Tiergarten park. The Obama campaign considered holding what is expected to be his largest event of the trip at the famous Brandenburg Gate, which drew criticism from German Chancellor Angela Merkel and others.

In his "Face The Nation" appearance, Obama said only a regional approach will solve the problems now faced by Afghanistan and in particular called for tougher measures to pressure the Pakistani government to help wipe out terrorist sanctuaries and training camps.

He said the U.S. supplies enough military and other assistance to Pakistan to warrant sending a stronger message about cooperating in the fight against terrorists and said that message "has not been sent" by the current administration. "I will push Pakistan very hard," he said.

Obama also said there would be "enormous symbolic value" in capturing or killing al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden but added, "I don't think that by itself is sufficient" to consider the job done.

Addressing question about whether his overseas trip is aimed at alleviating doubts about his foreign policy experience, Obama said his goal is to get to know the world leaders he might be dealing with if he becomes president.

"One of the shifts in foreign policy that I want to execute as president is giving the world a clear message that America intends to continue to show leadership but our style of leadership is going to be less unilateral," he said.

Posted at 11:41 AM ET on Jul 20, 2008  | Category:  Sunday Talkies
Share This: Technorati talk bubble Technorati | Tag in Del.icio.us | Digg This
Previous: Obama Aide Envisions a Game-Changing Movement | Next: Mullen Warns Against Obama's Iraq Troop Plan


Add 44 to Your Site
Be the first to know when there's a new installment of The Trail. This widget is easy to add to your Web site, and it will update every time there's a new entry on The Trail.
Get This Widget >>


Comments

Please email us to report offensive comments.



"Addressing question about whether his overseas trip is aimed at alleviating doubts about his foreign policy experience, Obama said his goal is to get to know the world leaders he might be dealing with if he becomes president."

Not quite what he said. What he said was that "the objective of this trip was to have substantive discussions with people like President Karzai or Prime Minister Maliki or President Sarkozy or others who I expect to be dealing with over the next eight to 10 years.

Obama said he will be President for 8-10 years in violation of the 22nd Amendment. This from a Constitutional scholar and professor who may have to answer the POTUS phone at 3AM.

Posted by: Indigo Red | July 21, 2008 1:23 AM

and oh by the way, why exactly did the sitting president ignore bin Laudin to stir up the hornet's nest in Iraq?
Because his advisor Rove wrote a book that said to invade Iraq.
It had nothing to do with the real problems we face with terrorists whom our CIA trained, in Afghanistan.

Posted by: Bruce becker | July 21, 2008 12:17 AM

"Obama has now finally publically accepted what Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and the rest of the pack knew all along"


Oh please GM. Do a little research before you post something that makes you look so stupid and uninformed. Obama was one of the first to call for an increased emphasis on Afghanistan. He was against the war in Iraq even before Bush invaded and occupied the country and said the terrorists and bin Laden needed to be tracked down. He was the leader of the pack, not the follower. Clinton and Edwards voted FOR the war in Iraq, taking their eye off where the real battle should have been.

Posted by: sharon | July 20, 2008 9:17 PM

wait till Afgan war become unpopular, he will say let's bring our troops home from Afganistan.

Posted by: Phillip | July 20, 2008 7:55 PM

Could obama's slogan "change" be interpreted as a command rather than a noun? And if so, is it a racial insult coming from an affirmative action beneficiary?

Posted by: Test test | July 20, 2008 7:25 PM

"Syrian mafia run the United States"

Umm without getting too partisan, dude, check the meds cabinet, I think somebody stole your Rx.

Posted by: logicbit | July 20, 2008 7:22 PM

What do Obama's idiot supporters think of their guy now, now that he proposes to fight a Vietnam in Afghanistan so his mafia friends can make money off the contracts. Everyone knows that's what his comments are about.

Are you really going to let this member of the Syrian mafia run the United States?

Pathetic.

Posted by: John Ryskamp | July 20, 2008 6:59 PM

GM - I think you are leaving off the end of the sentence and that is "to bring the troops home from Iraq". Yes, some will probably have to be deployed to Afghanistan after they've returned home, the place they should have stayed in to begin with, but that is another subject based on another lie. We can blame our politicians all we want, but until we 'educate ourselves', develop a memory that is longer than a breath on a mirror, and hold these people accountable for the continued garbage they spew on to their own citizenry, can we blame anyone but ourselves for being so utterly stupid over and over again?

Posted by: David | July 20, 2008 6:39 PM

Ok, Thats the same thing the Russian's thought, More troops, money for the government, Then what? You still lose, Does anyone own a history book? We need to do one of two things, Use tack nukes in the tribal area's of Pak and Afgan, To win and destroy the enemy, I say Nukes because the Russians used chemical and bio weapons and land mines that looked like toys and they still lost, That would be an insane option, but staying and fighting these people on there terms on there land, just bleeds cash and are youth, No one can couquere a people like these. As for the boogy man terriost, give me a break, save your 911 speach, These guys are not all that.

Posted by: RaferJanders | July 20, 2008 6:37 PM

It's refreshing to know that Barack Obama has finally learned what the rest of America has known for some time, that "the situation in Afghanistan [is] 'precarious and urgent."

Obama has now finally publically accepted what Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and the rest of the pack knew all along - and that his promise to bring the troops HOME was an outright lie told to susceptible Americans conveniently told for the purpose of his own advancement, i.e., to get himself elected as the Democratic nominee.

American politicians have little enough honesty, competence and character as it is - how ironic that we Democrats would have selected the candidate with the LEAST!

Posted by: GM | July 20, 2008 6:11 PM

In Iraq, the forbiddingly high concrete walls erected by the US and the many, many checkpoints which keep the 2 warring factions more and more divided, are the main reasons the 'reported' violence is down. Israel is now safer - wasn't that the whole point after all? Read the 1996 paper "A Clean Break. A New Strategy for securing the Realm", by Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, and David Wurmser (all part of Bush's team, and all very familiar uber-neo-con names with very focused agendas) encouraging an invasion of Iraq, toppling of Hussein and installing a new leader friendly to Israel. All written in 1996. The reasons behind the invasion of Iraq remain highly suspect.

Posted by: David | July 20, 2008 5:22 PM

Although I agree with Mr. Obama, unless we get our act together and stop dropping bombs on Afghani policemen and civilians (15 just today?), we'll end up just creating more and more enemies. There are just way too many 'accidents' of this sort it seems. Couple that with the high percentage of 'friendly fire' deaths, it just seems to be getting messier and messier.

Posted by: David | July 20, 2008 5:03 PM

So our troops will be coming home? No they just expended the tours to 15 months. We are never leaving as long as Bush/Mccain are in office. By the way, where did all these 12000 fighters go? Will they be back?

-------------
The Investor's Business Daily editorial board asked, "What would happen if the U.S. won a war but the media didn't tell the American public? Apparently, we have to rely on a British newspaper for the news that we've defeated the last remnants of al-Qaida in Iraq."

London's Sunday Times called it "the culmination of one of the most spectacular victories of the war on terror." A terrorist force that once numbered more than 12,000, with strongholds in the west and central regions of Iraq, has over two years been reduced to a mere 1,200 fighters, backed against the wall in the northern city of Mosul.

The destruction of al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI) is one of the most unlikely and unforeseen events in the long history of American warfare. We can thank President Bush's surge strategy, in which he bucked both Republican and Democratic leaders in Washington by increasing our forces there instead of surrendering.

We can also thank the leadership of the new general he placed in charge there, David Petraeus, who may be the foremost expert in the world on counter-insurgency warfare. And we can thank those serving in our military in Iraq who engaged local Iraqi tribal leaders and convinced them America was their friend and AQI their enemy.

Al-Qaida's loss of the hearts and minds of ordinary Iraqis began in Anbar Province, which had been written off as a basket case, and spread out from there.

Now, in Operation Lion's Roar the Iraqi army and the U.S. 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment is destroying the fraction of terrorists who are left. More than 1,000 AQI operatives have already been apprehended.

Sunday Times reporter Marie Colvin, traveling with Iraqi forces in Mosul, found little AQI presence even in bullet-ridden residential areas that were once insurgency strongholds, and reported that the terrorists have lost control of its Mosul urban base, with what is left of the organization having fled south into the countryside.

Meanwhile, the State Department reports that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government has achieved "satisfactory" progress on 15 of the 18 political benchmarks, a big change for the better from a year ago.

Things are going so well that Maliki has even for the first time floated the idea of a timetable for withdrawal of American forces. He did so while visiting the United Arab Emirates, which over the weekend announced that it was forgiving almost $7 billion of debt owed by Baghdad, an impressive vote of confidence from a fellow Arab state in the future of a free Iraq.

But where are the headlines and the front-page stories about all this good news? As the Media Research Center pointed out last week, "the CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News and CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 were silent Tuesday night about the benchmarks" that signaled political progress.

The war in Iraq has been turned around 180 degrees both militarily and politically because the president stuck to his guns. Yet apart from IBD, Fox News Channel and parts of the foreign press, the media don't seem to consider this historic event a big story.
Posted by: JP Vanderbilt | July 20, 2008 12:58 PM

Posted by: Anonymous | July 20, 2008 3:18 PM


The Investor's Business Daily editorial board asked, "What would happen if the U.S. won a war but the media didn't tell the American public? Apparently, we have to rely on a British newspaper for the news that we've defeated the last remnants of al-Qaida in Iraq."

London's Sunday Times called it "the culmination of one of the most spectacular victories of the war on terror." A terrorist force that once numbered more than 12,000, with strongholds in the west and central regions of Iraq, has over two years been reduced to a mere 1,200 fighters, backed against the wall in the northern city of Mosul.

The destruction of al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI) is one of the most unlikely and unforeseen events in the long history of American warfare. We can thank President Bush's surge strategy, in which he bucked both Republican and Democratic leaders in Washington by increasing our forces there instead of surrendering.

We can also thank the leadership of the new general he placed in charge there, David Petraeus, who may be the foremost expert in the world on counter-insurgency warfare. And we can thank those serving in our military in Iraq who engaged local Iraqi tribal leaders and convinced them America was their friend and AQI their enemy.

Al-Qaida's loss of the hearts and minds of ordinary Iraqis began in Anbar Province, which had been written off as a basket case, and spread out from there.

Now, in Operation Lion's Roar the Iraqi army and the U.S. 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment is destroying the fraction of terrorists who are left. More than 1,000 AQI operatives have already been apprehended.

Sunday Times reporter Marie Colvin, traveling with Iraqi forces in Mosul, found little AQI presence even in bullet-ridden residential areas that were once insurgency strongholds, and reported that the terrorists have lost control of its Mosul urban base, with what is left of the organization having fled south into the countryside.

Meanwhile, the State Department reports that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government has achieved "satisfactory" progress on 15 of the 18 political benchmarks, a big change for the better from a year ago.

Things are going so well that Maliki has even for the first time floated the idea of a timetable for withdrawal of American forces. He did so while visiting the United Arab Emirates, which over the weekend announced that it was forgiving almost $7 billion of debt owed by Baghdad, an impressive vote of confidence from a fellow Arab state in the future of a free Iraq.

But where are the headlines and the front-page stories about all this good news? As the Media Research Center pointed out last week, "the CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News and CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 were silent Tuesday night about the benchmarks" that signaled political progress.

The war in Iraq has been turned around 180 degrees both militarily and politically because the president stuck to his guns. Yet apart from IBD, Fox News Channel and parts of the foreign press, the media don't seem to consider this historic event a big story.

Posted by: JP Vanderbilt | July 20, 2008 12:58 PM

we have to focus on winning the forgotten war, indeed. And its something neither bush nor maccain has shown an interest and aptitude in doing. maccain wants to focus on the tactics on the ground in Iraq, like a troop surge, which has been successful to my opinion, but the senior citizen has not put a lot of strategic thinking into what putting all of your eggs in one basket results in. what if we have to attack Iran, as maccain has repeatedly suggested? where do we get the troops? we have, i think, just 2 brigades here at home to respond to unforseen emergencies. We don't even have enough troops to respond to the need in afghanistan. so, military terms, in terms of the strain on our military capacity, this bush-maccain view of foreign policy has completely failed. But also, in strategic terms. After 911, the whole world, even the middle east was ready to follow the US leadership. Bush squandered it. And no matter what policy change maccain enacts, no middle east country would willingly cooperate with him, even iraq, because of domestic policies. no one thinks he's looking out for them. he's so hellbent on regime change. and in the most strategic nations, he doesn't have a philosophy on how to go forward. for example, he doesn't have a pakistan strategy. just a "general musharraf" strategy. i'm frankly very restless when it comes to the impact a maccain presidency would have on our nation.

Posted by: lupercal | July 20, 2008 12:45 PM

Obama seems to think it will be easier to raise Afghanistan from the 8th century to the 21st than it has been to raise Iraq from the 14th century.

Good luck to all of us when he is CinC.

Posted by: Ed | July 20, 2008 12:45 PM

VJ Machiavelli

If the Democrats had not won in 2006, Bush would not have rid his administration of Rumsfeld and hired someone who knew something like Gates. Exiting Iraq was not possible when violence was high and it is unacceptable when it is low. If that logical disconnect does not concern you when no criteria exist for withdrawing, then I must conclude that you are advocating to people a never ending state of war in Iraq.

Furthermore Bush has followed Obama's policy of talking to the Iraqis and has acknowledged Obama's wisdom in the need for more troops in Afghanistan and it is only a matter of time before he will acknowledge what al-Maliki and Obama are saying that exiting Iraq should be US policy. Pres Bush is a patriot, who has been unequipped to be head of state because of poor advisers but he has the intelligence to recognize the wisdom of Barack and he will follow him in short order about Iraq. Had Bush chosen to listen to Powell and at least had a back up plan in Iraq, we would not be in the quagmire we are today. McCain is more stubborn than Bush and even more unequipped to be head of state.

We are at war and will continue to be at war with Obama as president. The only difference under Obama will be that the war will be for the US's strategic interest and not to correct a mistake by McCain and Bush.

Posted by: Ronnm | July 20, 2008 12:36 PM

In 2006 Democ"rat"s took control of Congress,and Obama was elected to the Senate. Their motto was Withdraw from Iraq Now, Get out Now, etc,etc,

If Bush had listen to Obama, and the Democ"rats" their would be no serge and Maliki would be "DEAD".

Neville Chamberlain motto was "Peace in our time"
Obama's and the Democ"rats" motto is "Withdrawal in our time"

Think about it every time you take your shoes off as you go thru airport security or enter a office building in NYC or visit Congress in DC, etc,etc

VJ Machiavelli
http://www.vjmachiavelli.blogspot.com

Posted by: VJ Machiavelli | July 20, 2008 12:14 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 

© 2009 The Washington Post Company