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Obama: Bush Administration Lost 'Focus' in Afghanistan

By Michael D. Shear
President Barack Obama said his predecessor's administration had lost its "focus" in the war in Afghanistan, forcing a revamping of the strategy that is aimed narrowly at defeating the terrorists who make their base of operations there and in Pakistan.

Speaking on CBS's "Face the Nation" on the eve of his first overseas trip, Obama said that the increase in troops he has approved is in service to that newly focused mission.

"The focus over the last seven years, I think, has been lost," he told host Bob Schieffer. "We have to ensure that neither Afghanistan nor Pakistan can serve as a safe haven for al-Qaeda."

Obama's appearance on the Sunday morning talk show was the leading edge of an administration blitz of the airwaves that included an appearance by Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner on ABC and Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Fox News.

Geithner told George Stephanopolous of ABC's "This Week" that the government bailout program known as TARP has $135 billion that has yet to be committed, leaving the government "substantial resources to move ahead with this broad-based suite of initiatives to help get the financial system back in the business of providing credit."

The treasury secretary, who has been under fire during much of his tenure, waved aside questions about whether the administration will ask for even more money to bail out the financial sector.

"We'll cross that bridge when we come to it, in terms of whether we need additional resources," Geithner said. "And, of course, if we come to that point, we'll go to the Congress and give them the strongest case possible and help them understand why this would be cheaper over the long run, for us to move aggressively."

On Fox News Sunday, Gates said he does not expect any change in the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy regarding gay soldiers.

He also said he expects a missile launch from North Korea sometime soon -- but that the U.S. has no plans to attempt to shoot down the North Korean missile if it is launched.

"We are not prepared to do anything about it," he said.

In Obama's interview, he said the U.S. auto industry is not quite where it needs to be to receive more government funds. But he praised the industry for "serious efforts" to move in that direction.

"We want to have a successful auto industry," he said. "But it's got to be one that's realistically designed to weather this storm and to emerge at the other end much more lean, mean and competitive than it currently is."

Obama is expected to announce the results of his auto task force on Monday. General Motors and Chrysler have each asked for billions more, in addition to the billions that the Bush administration loaned them last year.

Reports suggest that the president is likely to recommend approving at least some of that request, while insisting on even stricter timelines for action by the companies and their unions.

During Sunday's interview, Obama also reiterated his desire for a permanent middle class tax cut, pushing back against suggestions that he was willing to let the tax cuts currently in the stimulus legislation expire.

"I'm going to be pushing as hard as I can to get it done in this budget... so we don't see a drop off," he said. Asked whether he will insist that the tax cuts be made permanent, he said: "Absolutely. I still think it's the right thing to do."

On the economic recovery, Obama elaborated on his conversation with the heads of the largest U.S. banks last week. He said he made clear to them that they need to be more sensitive to the outrage felt by the American people.

"Show some restraint. Show some -- show that you get that this is a crisis and everybody has to make sacrifices," he said he told them.

"They agreed. And they recognized it. Now, the proof of the pudding's in the eating. So I expect to see that restraint operate," he added. "Now, the flip side is I've gotta explain to the American people we're not gonna get this recovery if we don't see a recovery of the financial sector. And there's no separation between Main Street and Wall Street. We're all in this together. And it's my job to help keep that focus as we move forward."

By Web Politics Editor  |  March 29, 2009; 11:35 AM ET
Categories:  B_Blog , Barack Obama  
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Nah, Please say it isnt so? Bush promised America the head of Osama Bin Laden, the Saudi Prince Mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. He put a wanted Poster, DEAD OR ALIVE on the head of Bin Laden? I'm certain that Bush has not stopped working on that and the greater good for the American People? He's probably just taking another Working Vacation while waiting for 2012 and the election of Jeb Bush his cloned brother? The fact that al Quida and the Talabon grew and flourished in the last two years of the Bush Fiasco cant mean that its really Bushs fault? Blame it on Obama, didnt he ask for all this??? rcm.

Posted by: rcbootsmiller | March 30, 2009 5:46 PM | Report abuse

When are people going to get over the incessant fear mongering, and start behaving like adults? There's risk in the world, EVERYWHERE, man up, GET OVER IT, EVERYONE ELSE HAS!

Posted by: brantl1 | March 30, 2009 2:44 PM | Report abuse

It's a shame how many americans feel it's our business to interfere in other countries FOR OUR OWN GOOD, IT'S OUR SURVIVAL, D*AMMIT!, well, really no, what it is is the vicious circle of antagonizing people in other countries that you somehow think demands further action. Actually, paying the piper comes due at some point, and then the best course is to stay at home, mind your own business and tend to your own problems, cooperate with your neighbors as good neighbors do, and in fairly short order the problems will blow over.
And I'm sorry, but Petraeus is a grand-standing dipstick.

Posted by: brantl1 | March 30, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Bush lost his focus way before Afghanistan. Bush lost his focus while in his teens and never recovered. Call him an idiot, call him a moron, nothing will come close to his mentality.

Posted by: racam | March 29, 2009 7:21 PM | Report abuse

I couldn't be more pleased with President Obama's new policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan. First of all, he has eliminated all ideas that America is going to "conquer" Afghanistan.
Next, he has gathered around him some of the best minds of our time: General James Jones, as National Security Advisor, Sec. of State Clinton, General David Petraeus (who even Bush recognized was a necessary influence, and INDEED, he is), Richard Holbrooke who has had much experience dealing with sociopaths disguised as politicians and leaders, and Peter Galbraith to lead the civilian side of helping the Afghan people. And, many others.
This is NOT going to be Viet Nam! Viet Nam was the last gasp of the Western powers struggles against "communism".
Communism is now GONE. The mindset of "colonialism" is now GONE.
This fight in South East Asia is about OUR very survival. To those who wish to see the United States withdraw from engaging in that area of the world and leaving them to fight it out without our influence, I know you will be preparing your apologies for when Al Queda and the Taliban topple the government of Pakistan and take over their military resources and send rockets with nuclear bombs on their tips towards whoever they wish to murder. Mostly, us.

Posted by: cms1 | March 29, 2009 5:49 PM | Report abuse

Everything should be fine as long as the President doesn't channel Biden. In fact, I heard he's trying to take care of the "issues"

Posted by: MatthewAvitabile | March 29, 2009 5:48 PM | Report abuse


• Remember the Bay of Pigs... and the fall of Saigon.

Afghanistan is shaping up to be another Vietnam.

It's time for Team Obama to show the door to the saboteurs and the Dr. Strangeloves...

...the "long war" advocates who threaten to bring down his presidency.



Google it.

YOU -- or someone close to you -- could be its next victim.

Unless Team Obama -- especially AG Holder, SecDef Gates, SecDHS Napolitano, SecTreas Geithner -- take down the draconian Bush-Cheney extra-legal "torture matrix..." array of secret "programs of personal financial destruction" and government-funded vigilante "community stalking"...

...coupled with the proliferation of mind- and body-degrading "directed energy" microwave radiation weapons -- the Zyklon-B of a grassroots, government-enabled American Gestapo.

Attorney General Holder, you must act NOW to restore human and civil rights in America.

Before the naivete of liberals empowers the saboteurs and Dr. Strangeloves who say "No!" to change.

Posted by: scrivener50 | March 29, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

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