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Split opinions on Afghanistan policy

Our Readers Who Comment are deeply divided over whether the United States should send more troops to Afghanistan as they study a new Washington Post-ABC News poll that has found the same result for the nation at large.

Many readers see either another Vietnam or assess that the cause is lost already and want to pull the plug now. Others see the stabilization of Afghanistan as essential, and remind us that President Obama was highly critical of former President Bush for going into Iraq instead of finishing the job in Afghanistan. Some note that President Obama campaigned against that Bush decision and ask why the Obama White House is taking so long to decide what to do.

The comments mostly flow along party lines. As Dan Balz and pollster Jon Cohen write, "The troop issue clearly exposes the partisan divide. The new poll found that more than two-thirds of all Republicans favor an increase, including 51 percent who strongly support McChrystal's recommendation."

We'll start with johne37179, who wrote, "Wars are not won or lost on the battlefield; they are won or lost on the home front. The number of troops in Afghanistan are less than we sent to a modest one day battle in the Civil War... Those of us who have served in uniform and have family that is still on the battlefield have a different perspective; one based on first-hand experience and the reading of history."

timscanlon said, "I think a lot of the people we are fighting there are very bad people. Look at what they are doing in Pakistan if you need to see what they want... They will blow things up in the US again if we let them. They are our enemy, and the enemies of their countrymen too. We need to be in this fight to stop some problems because we have no other choice but to do it. We can't walk away from heroin terrorism."

BobbyYarush wrote, "...Ive been here in Afghanistan for the past six years and have witnessed the coming and going of the military and leadership. Ive noticed that the single biggest issue that I have witnessed is that once a new command and troops come in... its like starting from scratch. They re-invent the wheel at every command change. I cant see how this is a very effective way to run the business of war."

zickzack said, "If our generals are any kind of men at all they will have ALREADY been sending the reinforcements into Afg. since protection of the troops already in place is the TOP top priority and to hell with what that Marxist fool in the W.H. and his equivocation."

To which wasaUFO replied, "You seem to have forgotten who's the commander in chief of the Military .... It's not any General or Admiral, it's the President. You should go back to Fox News & talk to one of the clowns."

davideconnollyjr asked, "How is the US "deeply split" on sending more troops to Afghanistan, when we elected Obama on his promise to get our troops the hell out of everyone else's countries?"

Imarkex wrote, "Obama is charged with protecting America as comander of our military.If he does not take heed to our Generals advise anything that happens is his fault..."

ChicagoKen said, "We lost this war long ago. We already had our Vietnam, we have no need to do it again. If the Afghans want a different government they will do it themselves. Bring the troops home now."

mike85 wrote, "The conduct of wars should not be the subject of polls."

tropicalfolk said, "Once upon a time, a young American politician said:
"There is not a liberal America and a conservative America -- there is the United States of America. There is not a Black America and a White America and Latino America and Asian America -- there's the United States of America."... Now, the nation is deeply divided on almost everything: the economy, defense, health, education, energy, foreign policy. What happened to that ONE United States of America?"

kunino asked, "...What is Afghanistan? A generals' playground? According to generals Petraeus and McChrystal, it's one in which the Taliban are winning. And how do they explain that? After nearly eight years there?"

shadocat wrote, "I'm a New York Liberal, and I support McChrystal's request for more troops. I remember why we invaded Afghanistan in the first place, and there is no reason to believe that the Talaban regime of Afghanistan in 2010 will be any different from that of 2001...This is a fight against extremist violence, and if we don't learn from events of the 21st century, 9/11/201? is just around the corner."

schumann-bonn said, "...the prospect of winning in Afghanistan is as bleak or bleaker than it was in Vietnam. That war destroyed Johnson's presidency. If we continue the struggle in Afghanistan, the same may well happen to Obama's presidency.
The smart thing to do is start extricating the USA from armed conflict in Afghanistan now. Can't do it over night but the goal must be to get out as fast as possible. If that requires a deal with the Pashtun, so be it."

csforst wrote, "This war is lost. Time to pull out. There is no way to make a long-term democracy out of Afghanistan. Clobbering al-Qaeda and the Taliban was the correct action, but state-making is not going to work, so it is now time to bring the troops home."

We'll close with pabiker1 said, "So Obama is taking his time to see if we can come up with a plan that will actually be effective. What happened to shoot first and ask questions later? If Americans have a problem with this, perhaps it is the public that should get the low approval rating rather than the president."

All comments on this article are here.

By Doug Feaver  |  October 21, 2009; 6:44 AM ET
Categories:  Afghanistan  | Tags: Afghanistan, Obama  
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In 1972, when technology was more backward: Japanese terrorists, acting on behalf of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, killed Christian tourists from Puerto Rico who had landed in Israel aboard an American flight.

And yet, we are to believe that terrorism can only be defeated now in Afghanistan?
And only with more troops with velvet gloves on?
This is not a strategy, this is tunnel vision.

Posted by: elfraed | October 27, 2009 6:03 AM | Report abuse

I voted for Obama but unlike almost all
Republicans, I do not regard him as omniscient God as many Republicans regarded George W. Bush. He is mortal as I am. I
do not care what he thinks I, based on the history of this country believe they are at
least a century away from becoming a democracy. We can not afford a l00 year war. It is time to get out now when the getting out is still an option. God bless.

Posted by: captainal | October 24, 2009 8:01 PM | Report abuse

How can our economy not be fragile with all the tyranny going on wars being fought tohave access in Afghanistan to have access to the opium trade etc.What we are told is happenning and what is happening are two different realities! Obtain the video "Fall of The Republic" to become totally aware of what is going down around us and what to be prepared for!

Posted by: PaulRevere4 | October 21, 2009 8:52 PM | Report abuse

The danger posed by Afghanistan rates as nothing more than piffle compared to the danger represented by Pakistan because the latter--unlike the former--has nukes, which makes it the most dangerous nation on earth because it also has a weak government.
If Pakistani armed forces are not more successful in subduing the northern insurgents this time than they have been in the past, and if jihadist terrorism continues to intensify in the rest of the nation, the government could fall--with the eventual result likely to be lunatics controlling nukes. If such a disaster actually happens, the world would know trouble as it has never known before.
The U.S. had better have an effective contingency plan to prevent such a catastrophe in place, or we might as well kiss civilization goodbye.

Posted by: ronaldoroso | October 21, 2009 3:58 PM | Report abuse

abbydelabbey wants all the resources we have been expending on Afghanistan to be invested in the US. Is anything wrong with that? Government money for health care, infrastructure, schools and jobs? All the stuff that is normally taken care of in the private sector or by the states, now she wants the government to pay. I guess she thinks the federal gov't. is some kind of productive, profit making organization. And then she wants to isolate the U.S. and turn our backs on the rest of the world, it seems. Cant' make up your mind what your ideology is? Well, you have the right guy in the WH for that. He can't make a decision either. Whereas he and all his socialist buddies agree that the best thing for America is still the public health care option (even though the gov't has not one successful example of an efficiently run public service) he does believe in it enough to fight for it. Afghanistan should always have been our focus in the war on terrorism, but he can't decide how or what to do. You know what? Grab Gloria Steinem and Al Gore and parachute them into the Middle-east. Anywhere except Israel or Kuwait. They'll have the whole region so screwed up that we won't have to worry about a thing for 20 years.

Posted by: tdavis11 | October 21, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

I see no reason to continue to prop up a corrupt, ineffectual government with ties to the heroin trade.

I see no reason to force our brand of democracy down the throats of a country that has no desire/interest and, in some instances, concept of democracy.

I see no reason to waste lives (ours or theirs) to fight the "Taliban" when the people themselves don't have any interest or desire to do so. (Some may claim that they don't want the Taliban but won't do one thing to fight them.)

I see no reason to waste our precious resources (lives, money and material) in a place where we are seen as the "infidel" and thereby deserving of death when we have our own country to rebuild. We need money for health care, to rebuild our infrastructure, and our schools; we need money for jobs in America....

Who is benefiting from our continued presence in Afghanistan?

The military industrial complex and the contractors who are making money hand over fist and the generals who are trying to make their name in history....

Posted by: abbydelabbey | October 21, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

The Afghan run-off election is Nov 7. The Commie-in-Chief needs to have adequate security in place *before* this takes place or all our gains are in jeopardy. He'd better move quick.

Posted by: Woadchuck | October 21, 2009 11:10 AM | Report abuse

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