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Readers decry another Afghan study

One thing most of our Readers Who Comment do not want is another study of Afghanistan -- this time of its provincial leadership -- before President Obama makes a decision about how to proceed with the war in that country.

While White House deliberations about Afghanistan have continued over recent weeks, more and more readers have expressed frustration at the pace, and many say the president is dithering. While a few of today's commenters support the process, this thread of more than 300 comments (8:50 a.m. EDT) is the strongest call for a decision I have seen from those who write in.

As Post reporters Scott Wilson and Greg Jaffe write, "The detail [Obama] is now seeking... reflects the administration's turn toward Afghanistan's provincial governors, tribal leaders and local militias as potentially more effective partners in the effort than a historically weak central government..."

Several who comment also see irony in the timing of this request with President Obama's pre-dawn visit to Dover Air Force Base to pay homage to the fallen as their remains were flown back to the United States.

We'll start with dwstclair, who summarized the views of many in writing, "...It takes the White House gaggle this long to figure they need a study? And when they get this study what are they going to do with it? Obama has NO military experience and he is going to nit pick the deployment adding three guys here and taking away two there?"

huj534op asked, "how would you feel, mr president, if those boxes coming off the plane in dover, carried your wife, and daughters? put yourself in the family's shoes, how would you feel about war, is it worth it?"

JoeDBrown said, "Will someone please tell Obama that he's not in a law school or graduate school seminar anymore. He is the President of the United States. If he doesn't want to use the Army could he please loan it to General McC."

gsms69 said, "Another study? How many more studies... I said a week ago that he would make a decision after our elections and if that is what is happening, that is disgusting. Either help our troops out or bring them all home."

donbl wrote, "This is why we do not elect senators very often. Governors at least will make a decision."

But ggwalt said, "Another Bush mess left for Obama to clean up. Bush not only dithered in Afghanistan, but abandoned it to turn his sights on Iraq. Now we have a horrible situation over there that's moved into Pakistan. I don't think there's any real hope for Afghanistan, who's never been able to maintain a functioning society... Seems to me, however, that the consensus is that there's nothing to be gained by staying in Afghanistan. Bush indeed set the world on fire, then walked away."

RWells2 asked, "He is doing what?!? I had to read this article twice to make sure I honestly read what I read - an overnight nod in Dover, then this. I wonder did he tell the families that he is doing a study of the warzone?... He must be politically removed from office."

Charles15 wrote, "GWB did not do a proper analysis of objectives and the resources required to achieve those objectives in both Iraq and Afghanistan- look where that got us. The old 'hunt them down, smoke them out and shoot them' mentality does not work... But first- just what does the U.S hope to achieve in the region?"

Bob65 said, "Obamabots, please spare us the nonsense about how Obama is carefully deliberating what to do, blah, blah, blah. His generals have already told him what needs to be done, and have laid out the strategies to win in Afghanistan. Obama is quite simply ignoring them because he, in keeping with his supremely narcissist ways, thinks he knows more than they do."

anonymous_ wrote, "Pres. Obama has made the right decision because 1. It is time for Afghans to take care of their own internal matters
2. US defense forces in Afghanistan have one and only one function - to disable terrorists to an extent that they are not a threat to US security and assets. US defense forces in Afghanistan have no business to run day to day affair of governing Afghanistan..."

mike85 wrote, "I find it hard to believe that the United States of America elected such a cowardly, indecisive wuss for President."

To which AlanGoldberg54 responded, "mike85 What, specifically, would you like to be done about Afghanistan? Just calling Obama names is not a plan but usually what cowardly people hiding behind something do. Obama has already increased the number of troops in Afghanistan and increased the number of attacks on the Taliban over that of Bush. What, exactly, do you want done in Afghanistan? If you were President, what would you do?"

mharwick wrote, "As a Nam veteran I prefer a commander in chief who actually thinks about the cost in lives The Chicago organizer thinks about the cost in votes not lives. We have troops that need help now and their General said so in no uncertain terms. If he thought about the costs in lives he would have ordered the troops requested immediately..."

Toosoonoldtoolatesmart said, "Obama needs to go back to some liberal university (lots of choices there) to study and be deliberative to his heart's content. For my son in Afghanistan, this President is a disgrace and a threat to our national security."

dwstclair wrote, "...It takes the White House gaggle this long to figure they need a study? And when they get this study what are they going to do with it? Obama has NO military experience and he is going to nit pick the deployment adding three guys here and taking away two there?"

We'll close with mbaker1, who said, "You can't beat the enemy on their own soil. The Russians learned that lesson in Afganistan and the U.S. learned it in Viet Nam. What are we fighting for???????"

All comments on this article are here.

By Doug Feaver  |  October 29, 2009; 7:38 AM ET
Categories:  Afghanistan , Obama  | Tags: Afghanistan, Obama  
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Perhaps the President knows something the 'majority' who would have him commit more troops in Afghanistan do not.

In a former administration this arcane knowledge was used to excuse what turned out to be a set of notorious gaffes and errors. The same set with which the current President is saddled.

Maybe he's torn about the losses he's going to be blamed for if he opts to pass the big 'loss' along to the next administration. At some point in time the valiant dead become monument fodder,their 'sacrifice' wasted. That's a natural sort of thing for any red-blooded American President, who wants to go down in history as the man who 'lost' Afghanistan? It's too bad Mr. McCain wasn't getting that opportunity, but then Republicans call such losses 'peace with honor'.

Posted by: keviquin | October 31, 2009 6:55 AM | Report abuse

"More studies are needed" is appropriate and even laudable in research and academia but to propose such a thing in the context of international relations and ongoing military operations suggests what many like myself already believe, that Mr. Obama has no understanding at all of what he is doing and is thus very likely to end up by making a bad situation still worse. Such public hesitancy communicates uncertainty, doubt, susceptibility to influence, vulnerability to intimidation &etc. One can predict that it will be followed by more violence, more attacks against American troops, American allies and American interests. Do Mr. Obama and his advisers really not understand such things? Do they truly believe that there is some sort of pause button which can be pressed to hold events and history itself in abeyance while they gather enough information to proceed? I have no idea if they believe such a foolish thing or whether the "more studies" excuse is just that, an excuse. Whatever it represents it is like pouring gasoline on an already volatile situation. If Mr. Obama expects such a policy to act like oil on troubled waters I am afraid he is in for some nasty surprises. Enemies of America and of American interests will know exactly what to make of this policy and will lose no time in exploiting it for their own interests.

Posted by: Teleologicus | October 29, 2009 8:04 PM | Report abuse

Afghanistan has nothing to do with what GWB did or didn't do. O has had 9mths+ to make a decision. He claimed he had a strategy last March. Now, he dawdles, scratches his arse, plays golf, attends fund raisers, campaigns ad nauseum,scratches his arse, whines about Foxnnews, scratches his arse, groans and grumbles about his mop..... blah, blah. He had the time to run out and welcome home the dead at Dover, yet can't seem to find the wherewithal to send support to the troops in the fight. I have two sons, USMC, in Afghan now. I'd like to slap O into next week for his dawdling. How dare he continue to keep those troops in combat, yet won't even listen to his General (whom he appointed). Please, loan the troops to the general...... O, you can continue with your WH parties.... we're good with that, just let the troops win, with concrete support or bring them home! Lousy, lazy arsed, no good elitist.

Posted by: gleanerl | October 29, 2009 7:34 PM | Report abuse

Some are criticizing Obama for taking too long on the issue of sending more troops to Afghanistan. Let's hope that US history will be a guide to all of us. On Vietnam, people were poised to jump on Kennedy if he were to withdraw the advisory forces that were there. But by 1975 and our eventual withdrawal even they understood the futility of fighting an enemy who was everywhere and at the same time nowhere.

Now, we're focused more on Afghanistan after the foolish invasion of Iraq ordered by GW Bush. Unlike his father, who got a coalition of nations willing to defend the rights of Kuwait, GWB unilaterally and arrogantly initiated the needless loss of lives and treasure in Iraq. Now with Obama, who early on saw the wisdom of focusing on al Qaeda, we face the question of what to do in that effort. Stay in Afghanistan and nation-build, or withdraw as soon as possible and go after Bin-Laden and al Qaeda from wherever we can.

Here again, we have the opportunity to learn from history. While the Russians, who spent ten years in Afghanistan fighting a war in vain, certainly didn't try as hard as we are to win hearts and minds, there is a reason they call Afghanistan "the graveyard of kings". It is logistically difficult to fight a war there, and the tribes and warlords are strange folks who don't much care about nations and western values of democracy.

As JFK said, "we must learn to live in a world of diversity". To do that he said, "We must first of all recognize that we cannot remake the world simply by our own command.".

Posted by: gparker1 | October 29, 2009 5:04 PM | Report abuse

Fortunately, most of the people who comment on blogs are not making decisions. If there were they would understand the importance of obtaining all relevant information before making a decision on something as important as Afghanistan. I have full confidence that Obama will make a decision soon and it will be opposed by approximately half of the people across the nation regardless of which way he goes. Personally, no one has made the case, in my view, as to how putting more troops into Afghanistan to "defeat" the Taliban and Al Queda. It is not enough to just make a decision. It is important to make an informed and effective decision. I know most Americans are not used to that approach after 8 years of the Bush, "quick, strong and wrong" approach but they may learn like it if they try it.

Posted by: cdierd1944 | October 29, 2009 4:26 PM | Report abuse

And the clear majority says: Out!

Posted by: uzs106 | October 29, 2009 12:47 PM | Report abuse

If a study leads to some reality therapy, i.e., it's just not worth it, I'm all for a study. Too bad someone didn't study Iraq a little bit before it was full speed ahead and billions of dollars too late.

Posted by: SarahBB | October 29, 2009 11:06 AM | Report abuse

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