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Live: Senate Armed Services hearing


From left, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen testify on Capitol Hill in Washington Dec. 2, 2009, before the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on strategy in Afghanistan. (Gerald Herbert/Associated Press)

Wednesday's hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee examines the careful balancing act President Obama attempted Tuesday night in announcing his troop increase in Afghanistan -- a boost of 30,000, faster than expected, but a withdrawal target starting in summer 2011. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Joint Chiefs Chairman Michael Mullen attempt to keep up the juggling, even as lawmakers such as Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and ranking minority member Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) try to pin them down.

12:53 p.m. -- Gates: "We must not repeat the mistake of 1989." The gavel comes down on the hearing. Sen. Evan Bayh (D) of Indiana finishes up with a long series of positive statements that are most notable for congratulating Secretary Clinton on the wedding engagement of her daughter. But his open-ended manner does allow Secretary Gates to end on a high note that neatly summarizes the administration's reason for announcing the 2011 state.

"I detest the phrase 'exit strategy,'" Gates declares. He says that what the United States is looking for is a "transition in our relationship with Afghanistan" from something that is primarily military to one in which civilian and development assistance is predominant.

"We will not repeat, we must not repeat the mistake of 1989" and abandon the country again, he says. He says it with such conviction that you can imagine he made this point quite clearly during the internal deliberations -- and his fervor is credible because he was responsible for the mistake in the first place.
--Glenn Kessler

12:27 p.m. -- 2011 exit start date "a goal." Mississippi Sen. Wicker (R) wraps up his questioning by declaring to Secretary Gates that he predicts "the left to rise up and protest vehemently the statements you have made" to Graham suggesting more flexibility on the July 2011 date for beginning a troop drawdown. The witnesses respond with uncomfortable silence.

It falls to a relatively junior member, Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), to come to the rescue. He gets everyone to agree that the 2011 date is simply "a goal that we are shooting for....it is not hard but it is a target. It might be a few people, might be thousands."

The lawmakers seem to have succeed in beating this horse so thoroughly it is no longer recognizable.
--Glenn Kessler

12:14 p.m. -- Worthwhile Canadian initiative? Sen. Kay Hagen, Democrat of North Carolina, puts Gates a bit on the hot seat by reading off a list of the NATO countries contemplating leaving Afghanistan and wondering why the administration thinks that NATO and other allies can cough up another 5,000 troops.

Gates says he only knows of two firm departures in the coming year -- the Dutch and Canadians -- and argues that the administration's "hope" is that "the president's speech and resolve will help change the political dynamic among our allies." In other words, none of these new troops are yet in the bank, though Gates later tells Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) that he has already gotten assurances of new 1,800-2,000 troops from allies.

Gates, in fact, notes that while the individual governments are "very strongly supportive," they are often in coalition governments and do not have much flexibility. "The will is the there; the political capacity has been a challenge," he says.

He could have been describing the mood in Washington, too.
--Glenn Kessler

11:24 a.m. -- A quick partisan jab by Clinton. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), one of the sharpest questioners on the committee, has a few interesting exchanges with the witnesses. He asks if they realize that this is the last, best chance to save Afghanistan, and they dutifully nod yes.

Clinton then interjects that it "is sad we had to do it eight years later." Graham seems briefly taken aback by her partisan jab, and mutters that it would have been sad to have lost in Iraq as well.

Graham then bores in hard on the July, 2011 date. He asks if the president has locked himself into that date, and Gates and Mullen try hard to say that as commander in chief, Obama obviously retains all options to change his mind. But, Gates argues, the date Obama offered Tuesday night as the starting point for withdrawing troops is a "clear statement of strong intent."

Clinton quotes from the president's full speech Tuesday night--which was much more nuanced than the lawmakers are suggesting it is--and says that the president wanted to signal that the United States is not interested in occupying Afghanistan or running the country.

She calls the July 2011 the date was "the best assessment of our military experts" that there can be a "responsible transition" started in the summer of 2011.

Gates explains that there are two audiences for that date -- Afghanistan and the American people weary of war. But Graham does not seem entirely convinced. "The enemy has a vote," he notes.
--Glenn Kessler

11 a.m. -- Dithering about the date: Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) elicts even more clarification on the July 2011 withdrawal date, which seems to get more flexible as the witnesses keep testifying.

Gates offers what he calls his "personal opinion," stressing that what he is about to say was not a part of the conversations at the presidential level the past three months. He says he envisions some kind of "continuing presence" of U.S. military forces in Afghanistan for many, many years--not involved in combat, but training and that sort of thing. There would be a "continuing partnership" with Afghanistan--if the country wants it, he said.
--Glenn Kessler

10:44 a.m. -- Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) gives a shout-out to former Rep. Charlie Wilson, the loveable rogue whose long-ago fixation with Afghanistan was depicted in the very entertaining movie, "Charlie Wilson's War."

Nelson seizes on Gates's statement that the United States bungled things up when it quit caring about Afghanistan in 1989 after the Soviet Union left in defeat. He argues that policy-makers should have listened to Wilson back then. (Viewers of the movie may recall it ends on a melancholy note as Wilson fails to secure funding to promote Afghani democracy.)

Gates, who played a key role in the U.S. assistance to the anti-Soviet forces at the time, wryly notes that dealing with Wilson was "always an interesting experience."
--Glenn Kessler

10:18 a.m. -- Lieberman weighs in. Gates offers a further refinement of the withdrawal date in response to Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), who seems to be trying to chart a middle course between Levin and McCain. The defense secretary says he expects a "thinning of forces" to start in July, 2011 as "we turn over more districts and provinces" to the Afghani government, but "we are not going to throw these guys into the swimming pool and walk away."

Noting that this is the second surge he has had to defend before Congress, Gates points out that the surge in Iraq only lasted 14 months. As the perception spread that it had been a success, he reminds the senators, the Iraqis could not wait for the Americans to leave.

The big issue now, Gates says, is whether the administration can make the same dynamic work in Afghanistan.
--Glenn Kessler

10:07 a.m. -- McCain jumps on Gates's withdrawal date answer to Levin, and declares it is contradictory and gives the wrong impression to the country and allies.

After several back-and-forth exchanges, Gates concedes that there will be a "thorough review" in December 2010 and that if the strategy is not working, "we will take a long look" at the July 2011 date. This seems an important concession, and McCain declares that is this is the case.

"It makes no sense for him [President Obama] to have a date" in the first place, he says.
--Glenn Kessler

9:57 a.m. -- Questions finally begin. Levin gets to the nub of the issue: is the July 2011 date for bringing down troops based on conditions on the ground or is it a hard date, no matter what?

Gates answers that that is the date when the transfer will begin. Levin presses for a 'yes' or 'no' answer--is it conditions-based or not? "No sir," Gates says. So there you have it. Troops will start to go home then.
--Glenn Kessler

9:48 a.m. -- Mullen defends the drawn-out deliberation process. In his prepared testimony, Mullen offers a nifty counterpoint to those Republicans who accused Obama of dithering during the long review of the new strategy. "I have seen my share of internal debates about various national security issues--especially over the course of these last two years," the joint chiefs chairman says. "And I can honestly say that I do not recall an issue so thoroughly or so thoughtfully considered as this one. Every military leader in the chain of command, as well as those of the joint chiefs was given voice throughout this process. And every one of us used it."

He didn't need to say that.
--Glenn Kessler

9:43 a.m. -- Clinton addresses her former colleagues. In her prepared statement, Clinton once again demonstrates her experience. This is her old committee, and she speaks clearly and sometime bluntly, noting that statements by Afghan president Karzai about corruption were "long in coming." And she sprinkles in phrases in her prepared testimony--such as a reference to how seriously the committees takes its oversight responsibilities--that shows she knows how the stroke the big egos listening to her.
--Glenn Kessler

9:33 a.m. -- Gates: "build, hold, clear and transfer." In his prepared testimony, Gates offers a twist on an old catchphrase--saying the administration's new strategy is "build, hold, clear and transfer." Transfer--meaning shift security responsibility to the Afghanis-- is an addition to the old phrase, clearly aimed at Democratic skeptics. Gates also seems to extend the surge a bit, saying it will last "18 to 24 months"--which is certainly longer than July 2011.

In one interesting historical note, Gates declares "will will not repeat the mistakes of 1989," when the United States abandoned Afghanistan after the Soviet Union left in defeat. Who was one of the architects of that failed policy? Gates himself, who at the time was deputy national security advisor for then-President George H.W. Bush.
--Glenn Kessler

9:17 a.m. -- McCain supports surge, blasts "arbitrary" withdrawal date. The ranking Republican on the committee says he will "be an ally in this effort" but, as expected, is very critical of the proposed exit strategy. This war "should end when we have achieved our goals," he declares, and signals he will press the witnesses hard on this point. But McCain also throws out an unexpected curveball--the rumors that the ambassador in Afghanistan (ex three-star commander Karl Eikenberry) is not getting along with the current commander, Gen. Stanley McCrystal. The senator -- who also mentioned unspecified problems at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul earlier on the "Today" show--says he is "concerned" about such reports. Interesting that he choose to raise this point in his opening remarks.
--Glenn Kessler

9:14 am -- Committee chairman Levin (D-Mich.) lays down his marker: The number of U.S. troops is not too small, he says in his opening remarks. The problem is that there are too few Afghan troops. Doubling the US troops in the south will "only worsen the ratio" between US and Afghan troops, he argues.

This is not a good start to the hearing for the president. Levin prefaced his remarks with some kind words for the ideas behind the strategy, but the bottom line is clear: He's not happy.
--Glenn Kessler

8:59 a.m. -- What to expect at the hearing: The troop surge was intended to placate Republican supporters of the war and the withdrawal date was aimed at Democrats anxious about an endless commitment. Now, the senators will get to weigh in.

Republicans, led by Sen. John McCain of Arizona, have already signaled they will try to elicit language at this hearing that makes the withdrawal date all but meaningless. McCain told CBS that he is worried "the message we send to our friends and our enemies in the region when we say that there is a date certain in the middle of 2011 where we're going to leave, but also that it's condition-based. Those are contradictory. You can't have it both ways. And I hope that we'll clear that up this morning."

Democrats, meanwhile, likely will gamely try to defend the president's dual-track logic while at the same time signaling that they won't support any open-ended troop commitment. Pay close attention to what Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, the committee chairman, says, because he has clearly not been happy with the concept of a troop surge.

Nevertheless, the reception on the Hill is likely to be better than the congressional reaction to the troop surge in Iraq announced by President Bush in early 2007. Few people remember now--since the surge is considered a success--but it was condemned virtually across the board by Republicans and Democrats (with the notable exception of McCain.) Then-Senators Obama and Clinton were especially critical, but so were many Republicans.

In fact, when then-Secretary Condoleezza Rice appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, not a single member--Republican or Democrat--supported the plan. A typical comment, from Sen. George V. Voinovich (R-Ohio): "I've gone along with the president on this, and I bought into his dream. And at this stage of the game, I don't think it's going to happen."

At the time, Bush had extraordinarily low approval numbers. Though Obama's approval rating has been dipping, it is still high enough to give him some clout on Capitol Hill.
--Glenn Kessler

By Washington Post Editor  |  December 2, 2009; 9:00 AM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency , Barack Obama , Capitol Briefing , Hillary Rodham Clinton , John McCain , National Security  
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Next: Timeline: The War in Afghanistan

Comments

TOMHERE:

John Roberts and Sam Alito (oops, that's TWO good things, sorry ; )

Posted by: JakeD

------------------------------------------------

This is only true if you believe that our Supreme Court Justices should be moonlighting at the local comedy club on open mike night. These two corporate shills are a travesty to the court, but hey the guy who nominated them was a complete joker too; what else could we expect.

Posted by: theobserver4 | December 3, 2009 9:34 AM | Report abuse

foreign intel operatives spent many hours researching how obama decided upon the exit date but never could crack the code

but here is how the july 2011 exit date was chosen.......

messiah obama was being driven to a golf course and passed a convenience store--a 7-11

where you and i-- the little people go

"thats it" said the messiah

7-11 July 2011

it was literally and figuratively a sign

Posted by: ProCounsel | December 2, 2009 3:44 PM | Report abuse

CODEPINK LA will turn out to protest Obama’s Escalation Announcement, Wednesday, Dec. 2nd from 5 – 7 PM at the Federal Building, Wilshire & Veteran Blvds. Contact: codepinkla@gmail.com or call (310) 827-4320. Wear pink, bring signs, banners, and your voice!

Mother Sheehan -- please join them!

Posted by: JakeD | December 2, 2009 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Where are the Code Pink Moms when you need them?!

Posted by: JakeD | December 2, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Orzot777:

If we are still in Afghanistan by Election Day 2012, will you vote for Obama?

Posted by: JakeD | December 2, 2009 2:46 PM | Report abuse

President Obama stated we are not occupying Afghanistan. What have we been doing for the past eight years? And now for the next 18 months and may be more. We must remember that the Afghans did not carry the attack of 9/11. They like us and others did not know what was happening. Gen Jones states there may be 100 members of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. So what is the logic of sending 30,000 more troops and keeping 100,000 there for the next how many years at the cost of $1 million per soldier to protect a corrupt government or its warlords? It is clear where this is going, no where at a high costs in lives and treasure. I was expecting an approach to solve the conflict by a President who will receive the Nobel Peace Prize this month in Norway.

Posted by: Orzot777 | December 2, 2009 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Yes, thornegp2626, he was dealing with Democrats in Congress (along with those outside of Congress who thought he was an absent-minded idiot). My point, however, was that Reagan let terrorism slide unfortunately because of more pressing issues like the Soviet Union's ability to wipe us off the face of the earth.

Posted by: JakeD | December 2, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: JakeD | December 2, 2009 1:58 PM | Report abuse

"We will not repeat, we must not repeat the mistake of 1989" and abandon the country again, [Gates] says. his fervor is credible because he was responsible for the mistake in the first place."


------------------------------------------
------------------------------------------

And do we know who was president at that time? Why, none other than smoothie-boy, neo-con loving, adorable brain dead Ronald Raygun
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
And Jake - do you know who controlled both houses in 1989????
DEMOCRATS! :-)
And they will abandon Afghanistan again!!

Posted by: thornegp2626 | December 2, 2009 2:16 PM | Report abuse


The SecDef said" "We will not repeat, we must not repeat the mistake of 1989" and abandon the country again,

I would suggest change to date to 2003 ! ! ! ! !


.

Posted by: swanieaz | December 2, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

swatkins1:

In case you forgot, Reagan was dealing with more pressing issues at the time ; )


Yes indeed. His memory.

Posted by: swatkins1 | December 2, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

WE MUST NOT REPEAT THE SAME MISTAKES?>?????

ANYONE telling that to obama who just re-HIRED van jones?

ANYONE telling that to obama who is giving ACORN a free pass?

Posted by: ChooseBestCandidate | December 2, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

swatkins1:

In case you forgot, Reagan was dealing with more pressing issues at the time ; )

Posted by: JakeD | December 2, 2009 1:58 PM | Report abuse

"We will not repeat, we must not repeat the mistake of 1989" and abandon the country again, [Gates] says. his fervor is credible because he was responsible for the mistake in the first place."


------------------------------------------
------------------------------------------

And do we know who was president at that time? Why, none other than smoothie-boy, neo-con loving, adorable brain dead Ronald Raygun

Posted by: swatkins1 | December 2, 2009 1:56 PM | Report abuse

will obama have his girls enlist ?

his daughter will be of military service age in what 2013?

Posted by: tru-indy | December 2, 2009 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Let's hope so.

Posted by: JakeD | December 2, 2009 1:19 PM | Report abuse

I'm afraid that it's yet another very unrealistic goal by the Obama Administration which will realistically end after 2012.

Posted by: TalkingHead1 | December 2, 2009 1:16 PM | Report abuse

JakeD:

Nice start. 29,952 to go. Keep me posted.

Posted by: eddie111 | December 2, 2009 1:12 PM | Report abuse

http://www.cnn.com Quick vote

Do you think that Obama's Afghanistan plan will succeed?


No 58% (90,152 votes)

Yes 42% (65,436 votes)

Total votes: 155,588

Posted by: JakeD | December 2, 2009 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Heerman532:

Are you still around?

Posted by: JakeD | December 2, 2009 1:09 PM | Report abuse

eddie111:

Forty-eight (48) already have. Every long journey begins with a single step.

Posted by: JakeD | December 2, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

afghan bound usa troops: "obama what are we fighting for?"

obama--"let me be clear. you are fighting for 18 months."

Posted by: ProCounsel | December 2, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse

JakeD wrote:
It's hardly "over" if 30,000 U.S. troops challenge the legality of Obama's deployment order.

----------------------------------------------
Yeah, let me know when that happens.

Posted by: eddie111 | December 2, 2009 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: JakeD | December 2, 2009 12:59 PM | Report abuse

eddie111:

It's hardly "over" if 30,000 U.S. troops challenge the legality of Obama's deployment order.

Posted by: JakeD | December 2, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

If Afghanistan was a normal nation-state, as defined under international law, POTUS would not have such a difficult time dealing with Taliban insurrection and assisting Kabul to defeat and/or assimilate the Taliban leaders.

However he must first secure the nation-state before he can do anything else.

Thus the action required is to strengthen the regional non-Phustun tribes and their militias and eventually integrating them into a federally integrated sovereign state in Kabul. When that process is accomplished, there will be a semblance of a defined nation-state with a central authority in Kabul.

Timelines are necessary, if foreign occupation of Afghanistan doesn't become a strategic mistake by Nato allies.

Afghan moguls are brave soldiers;they need a raison d'etre to sacrifice their respective regional strongholds with a view to finally enforcing a federal structure in Kabul reflecting the tribal strength of regional warloards.

If above is accepted as reflecting the true conditions on the ground, it'd take a generation may be to modernize and replenish the central authority of a sovereign government of Afghanistan which can defend its national interest.

Posted by: hariknaidu | December 2, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

John1263:

What makes you think that the GOP abused God's will?

Posted by: JakeD | December 2, 2009 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Idiots like JakeD are following the same obfuscation tactics as Karl Rove; continue throwing irrelevant issues into the mix to slow the process and confuse the already confused public. This stupid Orly Taitz crap is over and done. But i suspect that even if you are the last moron in the country continuing to promote this fairy tale, it's probably the most important thing a loser like you will do all day.

Get real, Jake

Posted by: eddie111 | December 2, 2009 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Heerman532:

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. Sen. Graham (R-SC) cannot, by definition, be a "chickenhawk" if he joined the United States Air Force in 1982, and served on active duty until 1988; thereafter, he stayed in the military, joining the South Carolina Air National Guard and the U.S. Air Force Reserves. During the Gulf War, he was recalled to active duty, serving as a Judge Advocate at McEntire Air National Guard Station in Eastover, South Carolina, where he helped brief departing pilots on the laws of war.

In 2004, Graham received a promotion to Colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserves, and Sen. Graham served in Iraq as a reservist on active duty for short periods during April and two weeks in August 2007, where he worked on detainee and rule-of-law issues. He most recently served in Afghanistan during the August 2009 Senate recess.

Would you care to "revise and extend" your remarks?

Posted by: JakeD | December 2, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse

What unpatriotic ahowles the republicons are. How disrespectful and niggardly in their criticism. If they had not so badly fouled the naiton up, if their leaders had not so badly abused the god will present after 9/11, this hearing would not be happening at all.

Posted by: John1263 | December 2, 2009 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Lindsey Graham is a moron.

But as leader of the chickenhawks; cheney, flush rimbowl, etc... I guess we should refer to him as "super chicken" - like the old cartoon!

Posted by: Heerman532 | December 2, 2009 12:33 PM | Report abuse

It seems to me that if I'm Hamid Karzai, I have to choose between two outcomes. One is to be a good politician, somehow reform the Afghan government in 18 months (which includes getting rid of my own brother, who is in the pay of the CIA and the opium trade), and then hope that after the Americans leave I will be given the thanks of a grateful nation for my good leadership. The other is to continue on the path I'm on, steal and store away as much money as possible in foreign banks, and be prepared to leave with the Americans, thereby ensuring a safe, secure, and luxurious retirement. I'm pretty sure there's only one logical thing to do.

Posted by: jonawebb | December 2, 2009 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Jake D wrote:

"No. I had to put up with your side's diatribes against Bush, so I think I will stay exactly where I am."

NAME ONE GOOD THING THAT BUSH DID FOR AMERICA.

JUST ONE.

Posted by: TOMHERE


He fought terrorists, he didn't appease them!
Saddam gone and bin Laden hiding in a cave!
He put the American people BEFORE his ego!
He was always proud to be an American!
Got anymore intelligent questions?

Posted by: cschotta1 | December 2, 2009 12:24 PM | Report abuse

obama's cinderella war

the war against al qaeda is a "vital national interest" obama says

and he is right

but then obama says the "vital national interest" disapppears in 18 months--july 2011 --just like cinderellla's coach turns into a pumpkin at midnight

it must be a coincidence that this is just before his reelection

obama does not understand--war is for keeps

war is not like cinderella's midnight curfew

Posted by: ProCounsel | December 2, 2009 12:19 PM | Report abuse

TOMHERE:

John Roberts and Sam Alito (oops, that's TWO good things, sorry ; )

Posted by: JakeD | December 2, 2009 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Jake D wrote:

"No. I had to put up with your side's diatribes against Bush, so I think I will stay exactly where I am."

NAME ONE GOOD THING THAT BUSH DID FOR AMERICA.

JUST ONE.

Posted by: TOMHERE | December 2, 2009 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Hillary, why is it that libs always seem to behave like children instead of adults? Perhaps you should be asking why your husband refused bin Laden three times while you were in the White House. I wonder what it must be like Hillary, to be shamefully married to a sexual predator? Hope the power is worth it!!

Posted by: cschotta1 | December 2, 2009 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Don't worry Mister Senator. Call your broker and up your personal ante in whatever companies will be selling the arms and munitions, body bags, supplying the housing and food.
YOUR PROFITS ARE SECURE AND GOLDEN!

Posted by: TOMHERE | December 2, 2009 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Senator Graham correctly points out that the enemy is listening and that the only way we are going to win this insurgency in Afghanistan is to break the will of the enemy. What Graham does not say is that the key gauge the enemy will use to assess our determination is whether the American public is willing to support the war via increased taxes. In opposing such taxes Graham is clearly signalling the enemy that there is no public support.

Posted by: sammy15 | December 2, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Cyrano:

Speaker Pelosi is suggesting a war tax actually.

Posted by: JakeD | December 2, 2009 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Atten: Washngton Post. Re: Your column of 12-02-"09 on Afghaniston.
You quote Sec. Robert Gates as saying that we will have troops in Afghaniston for the next many years. Not to worry. The U.S. will go broke paying for this, long before the "many years" have expired.
While we're on the subject, I listened
attentively to the President's speech, and didn't hear any discourse on how we're going to pay for the billions of dollars
needed to support the new military "surge" during this grand adventure. Oh well! Maybe this will be revealed during the next invasion of another country. Cyrano is sometimes slow to pick up on these things.

Posted by: Cyrano | December 2, 2009 11:52 AM | Report abuse

unpluggedboodah:

No. I had to put up with your side's diatribes against Bush, so I think I will stay exactly where I am.

Posted by: JakeD | December 2, 2009 11:51 AM | Report abuse


Not a big fan of Hillary Clinton –– but good for her!

Bush & Co. failed to keep their eye on the ball in Afghanistan with their adventure into Iraq.

Saddam was a jerk, but he was a good check on Iran.

Posted by: tony_in_Durham_NC | December 2, 2009 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Apparently, Hillary forgot what an advocate of the Iraq War she was.

If she wants to make partisan attacks about neglecting Afghanistan, she needs to be called out for her own role in that decision.

What a partisan hypocrite.

Posted by: bobmoses | December 2, 2009 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Jake D, please take your anti-American diatribes elsewhere.

Posted by: unpluggedboodah | December 2, 2009 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Graham sees the entire country of Afghanistan as' the enemy'

What a moron. This is the kind of ignorant chicken-hawk garbage that got us stuck in Iraq for a decade.

Posted by: unpluggedboodah | December 2, 2009 11:41 AM | Report abuse

jaxas:

I don't get to decide which military orders are legal or illegal. That is up to each individual serviceman and woman. An order which is unlawful not only does not need to be obeyed, but obeying such an order can result in criminal prosecution of the one who obeys it. Military courts have long held that military members are accountable for their actions even while following orders -- if the order was illegal -- luckily, the Roberts Court will be the ultimate legal arbitor in such a case. If you are seriously interested in how to determine whether a military order is "illegal" or not, start here:

http://www.law.duke.edu/shell/cite.pl?13+Duke+J.+Comp.+&+Int'l+L.+389

Posted by: JakeD | December 2, 2009 11:41 AM | Report abuse

obama's cinderella war

the war against al qaeda is a "vital national interest" obama says

and he is right

but then obama says the "vital national interest" disapppears in 18 months--july 2011

before his reelection

obama does not understand--war is for keeps

war is not like cinderella's midnight curfew

Posted by: ProCounsel | December 2, 2009 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Lieberman "charting a middle course"? He's just playing for time, trying to keep his committee chairmanship as long as possible, knowing that when he runs for reelection, it will be as a Republican. He knows he won't win a Democratic primary in 2012, and wouldn't win a 3-way race in CT if the GOP nominates a non-clown. He'll switch parties in 2011 or '12, unless lightening strikes in 2010 and the GOP is within one seat of a Senate majority, then he flips sooner.

Posted by: webfreddes | December 2, 2009 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Afghanistan is a FOREIGN culture. It does NOT want Christianity or Wal*Mart. Afghanis have their own agenda. It doesn't match OUR agenda. The place is a mess partly because of U.S. intervention at the time the Soviets were fighting a war there. The enemies of the U.S. today were the friends of the U.S. then, as in "The enemy of my enemy is my friend." Recall how FDR cozied up to Stalin because both FDR and Stalin were in a conventional war with Hitler. Had our "brilliant" war establishment not suddenly pulled out of Afghanistan when the Soviets saw their involvement there was expensive and going nowhere, we may not have had bin Laden and KSM to deal with in 2001. But try selling Afghanistan support to Congress at that time on the theory that it was in our best interest to do so. Meanwhile, Dick Cheney sees Afghanistan in stark good vs. evil terms. It is a death match. No dithering permitted. Just send in the troops, spend the money, and watch as the situation stagnates.

Posted by: BlueTwo1 | December 2, 2009 11:22 AM | Report abuse

And pray tell jaked, who gets the honor of determining what constitutes an "illegal order". Look. We all know what "illegal order" means to you right wing knuckedragging trogs. It is anything that President Obama orders because you refuse to believe he actually won the election.

You believe that because you really don't have anything else. You had 30 years of right wing conservative governing philosopy behind you and all you have to show for it is failed wars, massive debt and the collapse of our financial system and a near depression.

So, why wouldn't you want to try and scapegoat a President who has been in office for less than a year for all of that. It's all because you are losers.

Posted by: jaxas | December 2, 2009 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Seriously though, given his track record, Lieberman's credibility on these matters is about tantamount to Mitch McConnell's on health care....

Posted by: mmax | December 2, 2009 11:12 AM | Report abuse

You know, I get the distinct impression that John McCain wants to keep this war alive until 2012 because he mistakenly believes that by then, the American voter will finally wise up and say to themselves: "You know, we should have elected him in the first place."

If he believes this, he believes the claptrap about Obama being born in Kenya.

Posted by: jaxas | December 2, 2009 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Actually, under the UCMJ, it is their duty and obligation to refuse illegal orders.

Posted by: JakeD | December 2, 2009 10:58 AM | Report abuse

cdbjcajkbc

Posted by: UABBIZ | December 2, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

For any serviceman or woman (friends and family) who want to prevent their deployment under an illegal order, the time to challenge is NOW. Don't wait until you get the actual deployment order, or it will be argued by Obama's DOJ that you accepted other "illegal" orders and simply don't want to fight.

http://www.orlytaitzesq.com

Posted by: JakeD | December 2, 2009 9:06 AM | Report abuse
_______________________________

Servicemen serve at the pleasure of the COMMANDER IN CHIEF. Not on the whim of some psycho blonde biatch who needs medication.

Your post is disgusting and an affront to those men and women who ARE PROUD TO SERVE THEIR COUNTRY and who do not look to whimpy people like you trying to make a lunatic fringe point.

It is only because of the brave men and women who serve that you have the RIGHT to question the orders of the PRESIDENT.
You are not a PATRIOT you are an imbecile.

Posted by: kare1 | December 2, 2009 10:47 AM | Report abuse

How can these politicians sit there and just ask a bunch if irrelevant nonsense questions. Just give the military authority to handle this action and keep Congress out of it. You either have people too old to remember or too young know or understand. I refuse to dignify this as a war. We are heading down the same road again as we did in Viet Nam. Has this country not learned any lessons of the past. I am very saddened by what I see.

I am,
A Very Sad Viet Nam Era Veteran

Posted by: wilson0004 | December 2, 2009 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Of course it's not a hard date. It's qualified by conditions on the ground and begin to withdraw. How quick has he gotten us out of Iraq? It's a sink hole. If things worsen, we won't be able to leave, we'll throw more lives and resources on the rock pile. If they improve, we won't be able to leave because we will undo all of the "progress" we've made. The only ones who stand anything to gain are the ones who supply the troops for profit. And the locals who will be bribed by American taxpayer dollars borrowed against our future that went from bleak to bleaker with this announcement. It doesn't take a Harvard degree to know that these stupid wars have everything to do with our tanking economy.

Posted by: SarahBB | December 2, 2009 10:35 AM | Report abuse

I will bet that in 2011 we will not be any safer nor Afghanistan be any less corrupt than it is now....we'll just lose a few more lives and get a little deeper in debt. Like a dog chasing its own tail, absolutely pointless.

Posted by: brt30 | December 2, 2009 10:19 AM | Report abuse

"build, hold, clear and transfer."

Horse Hockey, Congress.

It's "Lie, Buy, Die, Sigh, By-By; lie, buy, die, sigh, by-by;...!"

A truly broken and immoral lasting record of repetative, manic defeats.

Posted by: lockmallup | December 2, 2009 10:08 AM | Report abuse

We can organize strategies like some football or baseball game but nation building is a whole different animal. The US has tried all sorts of game plans to transform societies in our mold since Vietnam and have failed. Rebuilding starts only when US interference is minimized or eliminated. Vietnam is a good example. Iraq, after being truly shattered by our bull in the china shop strategy is slowly on the mend since we promised to reduce our presence. We need to apply the same lessons to AfPak. No nation takes kindly to being told what to do, least of all the US. We should apply the same litmus test when dealing with others.

Posted by: drne | December 2, 2009 9:59 AM | Report abuse

For any serviceman or woman (friends and family) who want to prevent their deployment under an illegal order, the time to challenge is NOW. Don't wait until you get the actual deployment order, or it will be argued by Obama's DOJ that you accepted other "illegal" orders and simply don't want to fight.

http://www.orlytaitzesq.com

Posted by: JakeD | December 2, 2009 9:06 AM | Report abuse

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