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Praise, derision for Afghan plan

Our Readers Who Comment either attack or defend President Obama's plan to escalate the war in Afghanistan, but even some of his defenders have questions.

Readers have filed more than 1,600 comments on the seven articles and an editorial in the Post this morning. There is the usual Obama bashing from the right and the usual "he's not Bush and Cheney" from the left. But the central question many have raised -- whether it's wise to promise both a significant troop influx and a get-out-of-town date -- permeates the comment stream on Scott Wilson's main story.

TV Critic Tom Shales, who has reviewed the television performance of presidents for many years, may have provided the most succinct summary in the last paragraph of his column in writing, "Perhaps Dec. 1, 2009, will become known as the night the Obama honeymoon ended decisively -- largely because a great communicator placed too much faith in his own powers of persuasion and his celebrated mastery of a medium."

We'll start with two comments that pretty much define the reader debate:

paulnolan97 wrote, "This war is as morally bankrupt as Vietnam or slavery in 1860. The war is built on wealth that does not exist and a fear that is draining the country of what is left of its savings base."

But Maddogg said, "At last adults and competency have returned to the White House. Big change from the playpen days of the last eight Bush years."

Washington13 wrote, "More troops have been killed in Afghanistan in 2009 than in any other year of the 8 year war. On Obama's Watch. 61% from IEDS. Mindless children blame Bush. The Ditherer in Chief Obama is Jimmy Carter 2.0."

douglaslbarber said, "...I agree with the policy he's [Obama] setting forth here and prefer him to any Republican on earth, but I am singularly uninspired by a man whose core committment seems to be belief in his own omnicompetence rather than to some deeper shared public value."

jas7751 wrote, "Barry lays a big fat rotten egg full of his typical empty lofty boring blather. He is detached from his responsibility of a Commander in Chief, is not committed and would much rather prefer to continue his Socializing of America. He is in way over his head. What a schmuck."

kubrickstan said, "I bet if we win in Afghanistan, destroy the terrorist network, KILL Bin Ladden and get our troops out of this in two years, Fox news, Limbaugh and the double speak republicans will whine and moan that it cost to much money and took to long to defeat terrorism. No doubt in my mind."

j9zig1 wrote, "I bet those cadets were really inspired by his "I'll send 30,000 more troops but for only 18 months since it costs too much" pronouncement. Dems like JFK are long gone... "Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty." Not in Obamaland."

orange3 said, "Well at least President Obama has not gone on a wild goose chase in the wrong country. Bush couldn't even figure out that the enemies who attacked the United States came out of Taliban controlled Afghanistan."

lip111 wrote, "Obama in this speech wanted to satisfy everyone, yet the result is that everyone is dissatisfied. A leader makes a solid choice that is right for the american people, not one that attempts to thread a political needle. The right choice... is to get the hell out of the afghan wasteland, but no - he's capitulated to the military and the ignorant republicans."

segeny said, "Swell. The Afghanis know that the US is withdrawing in 18 months and will now just hunker down and prepare for the return of the Taliban and Al Qaeda, their new masters. Any cooperation with our troops is kaput - - after all, their heads will roll, literally, when the Taliban returns. The buffoon in the White House has ensured more deaths, more violence, and more attacks on US soil..."

Mindboggle wrote, "It certainly does not seem that it should have taken this long to develop this "strategy." This is not a strategy. Could you see FDR saying that we will begin withdrawing our forces from somewhere in WWII with a date certain. NATO will not help at all because they would rather have US soldiers and marines die than see their own citizens die."

kathy26 wrote said, "Wow, troop withdrawal will begin in mid 2011, just when Obama begins his re-election bid. Surprise? Nope, because that's the Washington way. He's full of hopelessness and non-change."

Georgetowner1 wrote, "I still think Senator McCain would have a better handle on how to be a wartime President. Having said that, we have US troops in and going to Afganistan and its time to do everything we can to support them instead of sitting in your lazyboys typing out criticism of the Commander in Chief..."

BruceMcDougall said, "President Obama addressing the US Military Academy:
"U.S. security is still at stake"-but only for eighteen months. This is naive and illogical policy."

tjp427 said, "I have great empathy for the President. Let's face it for the far-right, nothing this President does will be good eneough. For the far-left they oppose anything that interferes with their social agenda. Real success here will depend on how stuck on stupid the American people are. For I can assure you al Qaeda will not go away on its own. Real liberty is costly. It is time to pony up and do the right thing."

All comments on this article are here.

By Doug Feaver  |  December 2, 2009; 6:54 AM ET
Categories:  Afghanistan , Obama  | Tags: Afghanistan, Obama  
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We had half a million troops in Vietnam fighting the war the French left behind, and now we are fighting the war which the Russians left behind and doing it on a shoestring. The odds are not good.
Victory and winning have never been an option. We ought to have gone in and gotten out before the Jihadis knew we were there; and then repeated as necessary. That is what we will eventually do, since we have no plans to annex Afghanistan.
Anything else is just face-saving for past mistakes and it will cost Coalition lives. I have a son who will be deploying on his sixth combat tour. Tell YOUR son to join and die for a face-saving gesture and then, I will feel that we have something in common.

Posted by: elfraed | December 3, 2009 4:30 AM | Report abuse

We certainly have different schools of thought on this Afghanistan war. What was the original premise of the war? It was the destruction of the Twin Towers in New York city. What was the original complaint of the Saudi's when they actually came to New York to view the damage? They said the problem was America's middle east policies. As far as I can see their complaint was totally ignored. Also the video of Osama Bin Ladin laughing with some other turbin type was heard to say that the damage done by the suicide bombers had turned out better than expected. America then proceeded to punish first Afghanistan and then decided that the real culprit must have been that Iraq type Saddam Hussein, the hider of weapons of mass destruction. He was ordered to leave Iraq by George Bush, but refused. After the American ships setting in the Gulf for two weeks while Bush tried to get the Europeans on board to help fight in Iraq, but it didn't work so American finally went in and took care of it alone. Now Barack Obama comes into the picture. Will this next surge work in Afghanistan? The whole psychology of all of these police action wars has been the problem, because for America to go to war the American people have to be behind it at least 95 percent. This has not been the case.

Posted by: allset707 | December 2, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Fund healthcare, not war.

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

Bin Laden has won. America is on the brink of financial ruin. He sucked us into one war and provided a war mongering george w bush cover to start a second. Republicans and democrats can care less about doing what's right focusing instead on saying what they need to say to get reelected and remain on the government payroll. Health care is in the toilet with no realistic chance for real reform. The Twin Towers and the Pentagon were only the beginning of the attack, it's continued for 8 long years draining precious resources and demoralizing the country. Dead or alive, he won.

Posted by: dem4life1 | December 2, 2009 11:13 AM | Report abuse

I am getting a little tired of how so many people react to these very serious matters without having really listened. Mr. Obama was having to address at least three to four separate audiences: The American People, Congress ( who we all know no longer speak for the people ), our Allies and the Karzai Government. Everyone wants something different- The American people want to rebuild our economy and have no more of our sons and daughters killed in war. Who know what Congress wants. Our Allies want to rebuild their economies and save their children. Karzai wants us to give him a lot of money and security and not tell him what to do. BUT. There are terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan that mean us real, hellish harm. They want to deny human rights and freedoms to anyone who does not believe the maniacal code they live by. There are reasons for us to be THERE- unlike or reasons for Iraq- although one could make a case that Saddam was a weapon of mass destruction in his own right. The danger is real, just because you did not run into it on your commute to work this morning. Obama inherited a basket of snakes on top of a hornet's nest. But the not-thinking-past their noses Americans want instant pudding-instant success. Congress they just want to make you afraid and give you someone other then them to blame. He is right- this is not an American Political issue- it is an American Security issue. No one wants to telegraph our intentions to the "enemy"- but the Taliban has known for a long time that we had no interest in long term participation in that area-they don't care- they will kill us over there or over here. We're not giving anything away, Mr. McCain.

Posted by: poppysue85 | December 2, 2009 10:51 AM | Report abuse

A project without a completion date will never be finished.

If that isn't already one of Murphy's Laws, it should be added.

Posted by: crossroadsteam | December 2, 2009 10:31 AM | Report abuse

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